The Standard One, Two, Three Four

Something quick and easy for this week.  A traditional West Indian Planters Punch – the so called 1-2-3-4 recipe from The Gentleman’s Companion.  One advantage of this is you can mix up a batch at home and then combine with crushed ice at the tailgate and serve.

This is the original receipt from the first discovery of the drink.

  1. Part Sour (lime juice)
  2. Parts Sweet (sugar or gomme syrup)
  3. Parts Strong (Jamaica rum if you have it – we’ll do it with Hawaiian)
  4. Parts Weak (water and ice combined) – and use shaved or quite fine cracked ice, please…

Doctor this with the usual dash of Angostura (or 1 tsp per Quart), shake hard, and serve with ice left in the glass.

America, when not having time to dally with its drink as a correct West Indian planter is supposed to do, sometimes transposes the quantities of “strong” and “weak” –making the rum four parts and the water three, instead of as given above.

Pac-1x Week 1 Preview Review

Kind of weird doing this when it seems half the games have been played with this Thursday/Friday scheduling.   So ‘zona, them Utes and $C all played to form and the Pac-1x finds itself undefeated so far.

In my Crystal Football season preview I’m already committed to a 38-35 final score with all four or five quarterbacks playing for both teams, and God only knows who else might show up in the Cal backfield – defensive ends and linebackers.  We may see a number of plays with both quarterbacks in together.  I view Northwestern as Cal in the early days of our turnaround – good but not quite good enough to close the deal.  N came within 5:03 of an unbeaten season (if you exclude overtime) and that was their problem.  Good enough to get close enough to taste it, but not good enough to win.  And I don’t think they are good enough to win on the road against a team for which they have Zero game film to plan a defensive scheme.  As for our defense, N will be very predictable based on last year’s offense and even with shuttling quarterbacks, aside from a blown coverage or two, I expect the Bear defense to just get enough stops.

Our cousins down south take on a Nevada team that we’ve seen too much of and I’m afraid that they will probably not take them seriously enough.  So much for that #21 ranking.

Boise State will attempt to pull a Nevada on the Huskies in their new Heck of America Stadium or whatever its called.  And I think they will pull it off (as they have so often in the past).  Sarkisian is going to have to rethink a few things after the game.

Wazoo travels to Auburn and while the pundits think that the Cougs can put something together down south, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Colorado will try to get some revenge on State but MacIntyre’s club has a long way to go – and the first game of the season isn’t going to be pretty for them.

Eastern Washington is one of the better FCS teams and if OSU doesn’t keep an eye on the ball, they could be in for one of those 4th quarter nail-biters.   Coin flip.

Advice for Nicholls State:  if you’re going to schedule one of these road games, then pick a nice place to visit in the fall.   At least you can say you had a nice vacation and played a little football.  Actually, the weather is going to be too hot in Eugene – expected 86 – but that won’t have an impact on the result.




Our wine correspondent is missing in action, so I’ll just have to give you an idea of what we’ll be drinking on Saturday.  Among the bevvies arriving are:

  • a Pinot
  • a Malbec
  • a Petite Sirah
  • a Zin

and we’ll be bringing a bottle of what has been a surprise for the whole pretty snobby wine group.  The Fresh and Easy chain of markets has their own version of Two Buck Chuck called The Big Kahuna (Catch the Wave) which comes in various “flavors” at about $2 a bottle.  The Spanish Tempranillo is the best of the lot and it is described as “a light and fruity red with flavors of strawberry and raspberry on the nose and palate” and it delivers.  We’ve brought it to many social events and folks have thought it was a wine well above its stature.

Your Host

Hosting a tailgate is a science unto itself.  What to bring, how to bring it, and when to bring it are all issues worth considering.  Today we’ll start with what to bring.

Given that our group started by “tailgating” on Kleeberger (now Maxwell Family) Field in the BYOB area before they banned BYOB, we had nothing but food and drink in bags and backpacks (now banned).

Looking for a new venue, it made sense to use our parking spot in the Foothill Lot and our tailgate tradition was born.  So we started with one 4′ folding table, a few folding directors chairs, and paper plates and utensils.  Our first BBQ was a pretty pathetic compact square unit with unbelievably uneven and uncontrollable heat.

Since then we’ve moved up in quality and quantity of equipment.  In addition to the directors chairs, we have 2 triple-seat camp chairs that are like mini-sofas.  The first table was joined by a custom script Cal painted folding coffee table and then by one of those “forever” tables from Costco.  And we’ve moved up to green reusable plates and utensils made out of recycled materials.

The latest acquisition is a Weber Jumbo Joe tabletop grill with an 18.5″ diameter cooking surface.  The Weber kettle is a legendary device – last year we brought our full-size unit to the games which was kind of crazy but also very convenient.

And round it off with a couple of coolers for ice and beverages and you’ve got a pretty good tailgate set up.  Sure we don’t have DirecTV (no Pac-1x network anyway) and a full bar, but we do pretty well with what we’ve got.

On the menu

For the first foray into the tastes of tailgating, we present our own tailgate menu for Opening Night.  Next week we’ll present a featured recipe.  Every week we have an email thread where each tailgater puts their dish on the line so we avoid duplication (a tailgate with 8 plates of cheese and crackers could be scary).

  • Home-grown tomato salad
  • Papaya Salad
  • a Grilled carnivore or herbivore item
  • Cold pizza or cheese & crackers
  • Lamb kabobs
  • Triple-mushroom Vegetarian Arizmendi Pizza with the bake finished on the BBQ grill using a round pizza stone (we’ve perfected this technique)
  • an “interesting” salad
  • Blue and Gold Tortilla chips with homemade Guacamole (the dip representing Northwestern)
  • cheese, fruit and who knows
  • Cookies
  • Our contribution is Opening Night Special Cake (usually decorated in team colors) plus some snacks based on what we find at the local Coastside farmer’s market on Saturday morning

Go Bears!

Crystal Football

The 2013 college football season has officially launched with the old miss taking on an east coast robber baron – and the civil war between the Carolinas.   But who cares about all that when Cal is #1 with the most unbelievable, toughest schedule I’ve ever seen.  The answer is, of course, yes, they were high when they agreed to this.  But with challenges come opportunities and Cal is in position to be the spoiler of spoilers.

Week 1: Northwestern Wildcats.  I can see from the stat sheet that they are 0-0, with 0 yards passing on 0-0-0 and 0 yards rushing on 0 rushes.  That’s good, because from the way people are talking you would think that we were giving up an automatic 50 yards on every possession and kicking off from the Gold Zone.  Both teams will use both quarterbacks and the Bear Raid will debut with a 5-4 TD to INT ratio but that will be enough for a 38 to 35 win.  And we all decide that’s enough football for the year and go home.

Week 2: Portland State Vikings. Vikings?   Portland?   State?  Unfortunately for Cal, the Viks (as they are affectionately called) decide to return to their Run-and-Shoot heritage from the invasion of Newfoundland in 985 and literally arrive at Memorial Stadium armed with crossbows, spears and axes.  Bigelow proves that he is faster than an arrow to both survive the game and score the winning touchdown in a 45 to 38 win.

Week 3: TOSU Buckeyes.  I still can’t believe they chose their state flower as their mascot and he runs around the field.  Whatever.   After giving up 73 points in two weeks, Cal’s defense is visited by a collection of Golden Bear legends arranged by the Make A Wish foundation as some aren’t expected to survive the weekend.  If I recall, last year we came within one busted coverage of a win.  This year, we come within 2 or 3 busted coverages.  You can’t win ’em all.  28-42.

Week 4: Bye. After giving up 115 points (I’m actually having trouble adding these scores up), the Cal defense goes on a retreat to reflect on the true nature of football in the cosmos.  The Cal offense goes to Vegas to get used to gambling on every down.

Week 5: Oregon Ducks. Why just plain Ducks?  Officially that’s it – not Fightin’ Ducks or Paddlin’ Ducks.  Just Ducks.  Kind of Sucks.  Anyway, none of us we’ll actually be able to see the game since its on the Pac-1x network, but for those lucky enough to travel to Hey, Eugene! here is how it is going to play out.  First, UO has a new coach.  Second, this is their first serious test of the year.  Third, we still get blown out.  I don’t see how the Ducks were ranked #3.  Only question is whether we keep the score under 50 – we don’t.  35-56.

Week 6: Washington State Cougars. (And my birthday weekend!) A fascinating match between teacher and student.  Mike Leach brings his rambling wreck of a team into Berkeley possibly 0-5 after a similarly brutal schedule which includes having the team pelted with potatoes after losing to border rival Idaho.  The Cal defense after having given up 171 points is so well tuned practicing against the H,X,Y,XY,Z,ZZ offense that the Cougs wish they stayed home.  It’s our turn to score over 50 – and we do.  59-21.

Week 7: UCLA Bruins. At the Rose Bowl.  Probably in the  rain and the mud.  My kind of game.  I grew up a stone’s throw away from Arroyo Seco and what a location for an ambush.  Cal’s defense takes up positions in the high ground around the swimming pools.  UCLA is unable to find any open lanes on the 134 or the 210.   UCLA arrives 2-2 and leaves 2-3.  The defense finds its mojo and holds UCLA to 2 late touchdowns and we win 42-14.

Week 8:  The Big Game. Oh, sorry, thought that was going to be a regular thing.   No, it’s those Large Brown Rodents from Corvallis – your Oregon State Beavers.   The Beavs had Tedford’s number year after year, but this ain’t no Tedford team and Sonny decides that BBQ Beaver sounds nice.  The defense decides that they want to win a game – 3 INTs and 1 fumble returned for TDs are enough to win.  Riley finds out later that his playbook and signals were part of Snowden’s leaks and published in The Guardian the previous week.  To bad the Beavs thought that “Guardian” was some sort of shoot-em-up video game.  56-21.

Week 9: Washington Huskies. In shiny new Heck of America Stadium or whatever they are going to call it.  I’d like to think that the revived Bear Raid defense (yes, the defense is so good they intercepted the name from the offense) can do the job again.  UW likely to be on a 4 game losing streak courtesy AZ*2+S/O and fighting for a bowl game.  Again.  The game goes down to the last play again, and I just can’t deal with it.  Again.   38-42.

Week 10: Arizona Wildcats.  After a shaky offseason… yes, nothing is new for RichRod and the A-team.   The November weather in Berkeley catches UA off-guard and Bigelow makes the defense look like ice sculptures.  The defense loses track of how many points they’ve given up and starts counting only sacks and INTs – and gets plenty of both.  45-21.  And, surprise, we’re bowl eligible!

Week 11: USC Trojans. We’re so happy that we’re bowl eligible before the $C game that the team looks ahead to next week’s game and prepares for Colorado.   Fortunately for Cal, $C is also looking to next week’s game and prepares for Stanford.  $C thinks #5 is Stanford 6-5 backup quarterback Evan Crower (use sundial for 40) instead of 5-10 Brendan Bigelow (use radar speed gun).  Kiffin wishes his dad were back on staff to take the blame as the $C defense gives up more yards than ever.   Cal defense does a little better.  After enough overtimes to rewrite NCAA rule books again, Cal 73 $C 70.

Week 12: Colorado Buffaloes. At altitude.  After euphoric win over $C, the Cal defense has now had two weeks to prepare for the Buffs and it isn’t pretty.  Sonny punts on second down just to give CU and their new coach MacIntyre a chance for some dignity in defeat.  59-3.

Week 13: The Big Game. You’ll have to wait.  OK, if you must know.  We’ve got a chance if we make improvements during the season AND if Stanford manages to leave a trail of injuries after each game.  A depleted Cardinal and an improving Cal will make for a great game.  ‘furd has the edge as the home team even though most of their fans go to the “Venture Capitalist of the Year” Awards and so it goes – 45-49.

Bowl Game: Cal makes it to the “Random Personal Cleansing Product” Bowl and Wins in Overtime on a 52-yard field goal.

We finish 9-4.  Cal breaks records for both points scored and points given up.  [Quiz: just how many points did we give up?]

And Dan thought he was an Optimist!

Zero Expectations

I spent a few minutes scouring the blogosphere to see what people are saying about Cal and what impressed me most is how little they are saying.  Pundits don’t like to be wrong and a young team with a new coaching staff playing in a (practically) brand new stadium is about as unpredictable of a beast as you could imagine.  For example, ESPN feels that Cal does not feature any of the top 25 players in the Pac-1x.  Zero.  And if you look at that list, there are plenty of players who apparently please the pundits but will never see NFL action – while historically Cal has produced some greats including 40 players on NFL preseason rosters.  Personally, I think we have some great players today who will play on Sunday.  More importantly, from what I’ve heard the players themselves say, the Bears have generated some chemistry which hasn’t been seen in Strawberry Canyon for quite some time.  In fact, I would even venture to say that it was the distinct lack of chemistry that provided the final obstacle between some great Cal teams of the past decade and the Rose Bowl.   So I’m hoping that we can indeed have a better team through chemistry.Tomorrow: the Pac-1x season preview and our first forays into tailgating advice for 2013.

I’m An Optimist

I must say, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about Cal Football.

Over the last few years, I’d follow what’s happening with the team on, and I’d get caught up in the usual pre-season excitement; but every year, the team would play a couple games, and show more evidence that it was being mis-micro-managed by its head coach and staff.  A hopelessly complex offense, a parade of Offensive Coordinators, inadequate Strength & Conditioning, and an astonishing bargain (e.g., prized recruit commits to Cal if his relative is guaranteed the starting QB job) all contributed to a team that was disorganized, undisciplined, and didn’t play anywhere near its potential.

That was the end of the Jeff Tedford era. This, ladies & gentlemen, is the Sonny Dykes era.

First, the BearRaid offense that Dykes and OC Tony Franklin are creating is — finally — very well-suited to Cal’s speedy RBs and receivers.  Instead of pounding fast, undersized RBs into a wall, the BearRaid is an offense that uses four WRs to force defenses to respect the pass, and create openings for the run.  This is the scheme that takes some pressure off of an inexperienced offensive line.  There will usually be a receiver open, and the QB can find them and throw the ball before the pass rush gets to him.  This should be interesting to watch!

Speaking of the QB, who will be running the Bear Raid for Cal?  Good question!  It’s currently a virtual tie between blue-shirt freshman Zach Kline and true freshman Jared Goff.  Kline has the stronger arm & is more comfortable with the longer throws, but Goff has been more consistent with the short possession throws that will be a staple of the Bear Raid.  Goff ran this type of offense in HS, and that is part of his advantage, but Kline is learning quickly.  Kline, Goff, and junior Austin Hinder have impressed the coaches with their preparation and their play in practices so far, but it’s still a tough choice.

The Bear Raid is a fast-paced, no-huddle offense, and the Cal players are ready, both mentally and physically.  Many of the players are in the best shape of their lives, thanks to Strength & Conditioning Coach Damon Harrington.

My concern: We have an inexperienced OL, and an inexperienced QB — either true freshman or RS freshman.  Strategic antidote: Start out with a couple screen passes and sweeps to get the DL gassed & slow ’em down.

Still, I think that this year’s Bears will surprise quite a few teams.  It’ll be a “learning experience”, but it’ll be fun to watch, for sure.

I’m predicting six wins!

Go Bears!!

Welcome to iGoBears 2013

Welcome to the 2013 edition of iGoBears.  In keeping with the general theme of throwing everything out that had anything to do with the [deleted] era, we’ve completely revamped iGoBears and I’ve even renamed my commentary unBEARable for this season.  unBEARable is a reference to what we’ve all been through the last couple of seasons, a mental and physical toughness that is simply not matched anywhere else in Professional College Football today.

Oh, you didn’t get the memo?   Apparently NCAA Football is going break up after this last BCS (FBS) season into something that makes more sense.  I’ve always said that if something doesn’t appear to be broken, then applying the efforts of a dozen University Presidents will certainly create something broken in a different way.   The rumor has it that the cream of the BCS (FBS) will become the so-called Division 4 or, as I like to call it, Professional, and that the other divisions will be named appropriately (Surely Never on Television [SNOT] Division, Sometimes on Radio Except on Saturday [SORES] Division, and the Maybe I Can Know Each Year My Own University Scores [MICKEYMOUS] Division).

Anyway, regardless of what division Cal ends up in, we still have the most beautiful place to play the oblong ball game on the planet, and iGoBears is here to help you enjoy Every Game Day with everything from traffic to recipes, cocktails to commentary.  So loosen up that blue and gold tie and lets enjoy the season together.

35 Years Ago Today – The Stanfurd Axe “Theft”

[This is the same version that I posted in November, 2012, but with a couple minor edits. — Dan]

The Stanford Axe, symbol of the rivalry between Cal and Stanford, has gone to the Big Game victor since 1933. Since then, it’s also been stolen a few times by each university, with the last ‘real’ theft by Stanford at Ming’s Restaurant in Palo Alto in 1973. But in 1978, there was a different kind of “theft.” During halftime of a men’s basketball game between Cal and Stanford at Maples Pavilion, two Cal students ran across the court, holding the Axe, and showing it to both sides of the arena before running off the court, and disappearing.

I was one of those students.

It wasn’t a real theft. The Axe that we carried was actually a fake – but an unbelievably good one. The story started with Stanford’s convincing victory in the 1977 Big Game, by a score of 21-3. I was a freshman in the Cal Band, and the week before had been a full one: late nights spent guarding our practice field, playing at luncheons, riding a San Francisco Cable Car (and having to somehow position the rather large bell of my tuba out the rear window of the cable car, without falling out myself!), and managing to fit in a couple Calculus problem sets during the wee hours. It was wild, dizzying, and almost overwhelming. And then we marched up to my first Big Game Bonfire Rally in the Greek Theater. I loved every bit of it.

After the Rally, the Band split into four bands, boarded buses, and played at various alumni reunions throughout Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland. Old Blues clapped and cheered, and bought drinks for us. This I liked! The next morning came early, though, and we boarded buses once again to make the trek to Stanford. Just three hours of rehearsal at Palo Alto High School, followed by a short march to the old Stanford Stadium, an intense, lung-burning PreGame show, and then… the game.

What a letdown! I watched helplessly in the fourth quarter as Cal’s offense seemed unable to do anything. Guy Benjamin, the Stanford QB, had great success at throwing flare passes to freshman Darrin Nelson, and he was nearly impossible for the Bears to stop. At that moment, every bit of lost sleep from the week caught up with me. All that cheering, playing, guarding, singing, and dancing seemed a wasted effort, and a feeling of hopeless exhaustion came over me.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

The story of how the Fake Axe plot was conceived, planned, and executed is already well documented by Jamie Rawson (’77). His account of the entire Fake Axe saga (which is in iGoBears, under the title “The 1978 Axe Caper: The Official Story”) is still the best reference available. Besides, for the hatching of the plot, and the building of the Fake Axe, I was completely out of the loop. Everything was on a “need to know” basis, and at that point, I didn’t need to know.

The plot revolved around fellow Bass player Jay Huxman, who had the idea to make a Fake Axe, and then made one; and Jamie, who expertly painted the the plaque to give the appearance of the brass plates that show the scores for all Big Games past.

I was only involved in the last 1% of the plan. But it was definitely the most exciting 1%!

I don’t remember when I first saw the Fake Axe, but I remember feeling amazed and astonished. I’d seen the Real Axe before, and honestly, I couldn’t tell that it was a fake until I got within about five feet of it. Jay and Jamie couldn’t have done a more thorough job. It was brilliant!

I remember meeting the Cal Band bus at Maples Pavilion before the game on January 28th, 1978. Jay and Kip Parent came up to talk with me, and they asked me if I would be interested in running the Fake Axe across the basketball court along with Jay. “Sure,” I said. I was pretty agreeable at the time, and I thought it might be cool. I was in with both feet. And I was definitely too young and naïve to have any thoughts of self-preservation.

We took a walk around the Pavilion, and saw the paved path that led to a gate; an ambulance was parked there, and it seemed natural that the gate (a 9-ft tall section of chain link fence) should be open. We went over the basic plan and the escape route, and everything seemed pretty straightforward. The getaway car, driven by John Gezelius, would be just outside the gate. We were all set.

We did our normal playing with the Cal Band at the basketball game. Then, with a few minutes to go in the first half, we removed our white dress shirts, straw hats, and vests – anything that would identify us as members of the Cal Band. We didn’t want to do anything that might reflect poorly on the Band. I put on the Cal sweatshirt that was brought for me, and during halftime, Jay and I crouched down at the edge of the floor, with the Fake Axe still inside a thin cardboard box, and watched the pee-wee basketball game that occupied the first part of halftime. It was during this time that Eric eased over and whispered to us, “the gate is locked.” Whoa.

We waited nervously for our signal; when the little ones cleared the court, and precisely ten seconds after the Stanford Band started playing its first song, we would make our run. Appropriately, the trumpets started the familiar William Tell Overture…. and we were off!

Holding one side of the Axe, and Jay holding the other, we ran from the end line to the top of the key, holding the Axe horizontal, with the blade side down. Then we held it up to show the Stanford Alumni section for a second – still running – and then turned it around toward the Stanford Band and Student Section.

By then, we were a few meters from the other end of the court. Jay tucked the Axe under his arm, we sprinted through a human tunnel of our “blockers,” who were willing to get in the way of, slow down, and for some, get run over by our pursuers. The human tunnel closed after us – and that probably saved my life.

We ran up the tunnel toward the exit – a glass and steel double-door. There weren’t many people at all, except for a Stanford policeman. He seemed surprised to see us, as we were to see him, but we sped past him and got out the door. He wasn’t going to outrun us, and in 1977, we were pretty sure he wouldn’t shoot us.

We were outside! I remember easing up to about half-speed, and I thought, “No one is going to be chasing us…” Jay was still running full speed, and he and the Axe were about 10 yards ahead of me. It was strangely quiet.

And then, I heard a sound. It was somewhat familiar… Yes! The sound of someone hitting the bar of a steel double-door, but really hard – and not just one person, but maybe… a lot!!

By now, the Stanford frat guys from the Student Section were in full chase, and I heard numerous threats to my physical well-being. I was now in a full sprint (and then some!). The run seemed like it was about a hundred yards, and it went pretty quickly. But I could hear footsteps… Jay, still ahead of me, slid the Axe under the locked gate to one of the guys on the other side. As Jay started to climb the gate, I hit the gate at a full sprint — Jump, Pull, Over. (To be honest, I’ve always been kind of a wimp about climbing fences & all that, but with adrenaline and threats of dismemberment, the climb seemed fast and easy!)

As I was going over the gate, facing Jay, I looked down – and the first Stanford guy had a hold of Jay’s ankle! Jay shook him off, got over the gate, and we dashed to the getaway car. We hadn’t practiced this part, though, and there was some hesitation ahead of me, and I’m not sure if I said it, or only thought it: “GET IN THE DAMN CAR!!”

As we started to drive through the parking lot, I could see literally hundreds of Cardinal-clad, hostile fanatics chasing us. We weren’t out of the woods yet. One guy pulled an 8-ft long traffic barricade right in front of us! John managed to squeeze past it (with only a minor smudge of white paint on the side of his car), and we were on our way through the parking lot.

I think we were doing about 80 mph down Palm Drive, and when we got into the first block of downtown Palo Alto, John made a hard right turn (with screeching wheels) onto High St. However, our speed had attracted the attention of another one of Stanford’s finest Campus Police, and she pulled us over on High St., with lights flashing.

She motioned for us to roll down the passenger window, and she asked John for his I.D.

Then I saw the reflection of many, many more red and blue flashing lights on the buildings that surrounded us.

No fewer than three Palo Alto Police cars pulled up behind the Stanford Campus Police car. A burly sergeant, 50-ish, lowered his head into the car window and snapped, “You guys know anything about an Axe?”

Nobody responded, until one of us replied, “Well… Should we tell him?”

I rolled my eyes, but I had to admit that I felt much safer in police custody than I would with the guys in red! Besides, I was still shaking uncontrollably, and this continued for nearly a full day afterward.

So we told the sergeant about the Fake Axe, and we got out of the car to show him, and he took a good, long, look at it. Then he reached on his belt for his radio, mumbled something into it, and while waiting for a reply, looked up at us and said, “If the real one’s gone, you guys are in deep sh-t.”

After a few beeps , squawks, and unintelligible bits of radio-speak, the sergeant got his radio confirmation that the Real Stanford Axe was, indeed, still locked in its highly-secure case in Tresidder Student Union. The sergeant immediately put the radio back on his belt, got in his car, and the three Palo Alto Police cars went away as quickly as they had arrived.

Our Stanford Campus officer, on the other hand, was intrigued, and she asked us what all this Axe stuff was about. So we told her the stories of 19th-century baseball games and ribbons and trans-Bay thefts, and she was fascinated by it all. And she said “Thanks, guys!”, and bid us a good night.

And I got back in the car, feeling very, very lucky to be not only alive, but intact! …and still shaking…