New third edition of Everything Father-to-Be Book hits shelves

Everything resizedOne hundred seventy-five thousand people can’t be wrong, can they? Well maybe they can on some things, but not on this one. That is the sales figure to date for The Everything Father-to-Be Book—a brand new third edition of which was just released and is hitting bookstore shelves all across America as we speak.

Pass the word along if you know any expectant fathers. As the father of four, I wrote the book with humor and lots of practical advice about this most amazing and challenging adventure in a man’s life.

Napa Valley Travel Examiner: Now covering good food and wine

Within the past few weeks I have joined and become its Napa Valley Travel Examiner. My beat is the Napa Valley and wine country. I will be writing about places to go in the valley, things to do, food to eat and drinks to drink.

If you’re at all interested in hearing about one of the great wine regions on earth, I invite you to come along for the ride. Should  be fun.

A witty piece of corkscrew art seen at Uncorked, across from the Oxbow Public Market in Napa.

A witty piece of corkscrew art seen at Uncorked, across from the Oxbow Public Market in Napa.

Click here and it will take you to my profile page on the site. In the author box next to my picture there is a Subscribe button. This will bring up a window in which you put your email address. They will then send you an email to confirm your subscription and you’ll be good to go. Cheers!


USS Arizona Memorial: A Significant, and Deeply Meaningful, Sacred Place

Visitors at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.

Visitors at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.

Every American—every citizen of the world—ought to pay a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. It’s an important place of U.S. and global history. You will learn something there and you will be moved.

Pearl Harbor is like the 9/11 sites in New York and Pennsylvania, or Gettysburg; it is sacred ground. It was where, on December 7, 1941, a surprise attack by the Japanese killed more than two thousand men and launched our entry into World War II. But not just Americans go there.  Many Japanese do, too. They learn about their country’s history and are moved as well.

The Pearl Harbor Visitors Center and the USS Arizona Memorial are popular sites for travelers around the world—more than 1.5 million a year. Reservations are a must, especially during the busy summer months. As soon as you know the dates you’ll be in Oahu, book your reservations here.

A trip to the watery grave that is the USS Arizona Memorial begins at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theatre with a sensitive and well-made 23-minute documentary. Narrated by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, it describes the events leading up to the attack, the attack itself, and what followed it. It shows powerful footage of these momentous events. 

After the movie, people walk quietly aboard a boat that is operated by the United States Navy. While the National Park Service oversees the visitors center, the Navy handles the water part of the tour. It’s a short ride across the channel to the the spot where the USS Arizona and many of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen went down. Hundreds of other servicemen, aboard other ships moored along Ford Island, were also killed in the attack.

The beautiful, white 184-foot-long Memorial structure spans the middle area of the sunken battleship, and its rusty remnants are still visible above and below the placid blue waters. It is impossible not to be moved by the names of the fallen heroes engraved in marble on the wall of the shrine room. There were some survivors that day; not everyone on board perished. Many of the survivors, who have since passed on themselves, chose to be buried with their brothers at sea whom they left behind that day. The names of these survivors now buried there are listed beside the wall.

The honor roll of the fallen.

The honor roll of the fallen.

The designer of the Memorial, Alfred Preis, said his aim was to create an atmosphere “of serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses…his innermost feelings.” Job well done. Everyone who goes there, young and old alike, cannot help but feel in some way the enormity of the losses that occurred there. Continue reading

Six Fun Things To Do With Your Family at Sonoma Raceway

For many travelers, a visit to the Sonoma Valley means a leisurely tour of vineyards, wine-tasting, and exploring the shops, galleries, and restaurants at historic Sonoma Plaza. For others, however, it means something else altogether: racing.

The Sonoma Raceway, at the junction of Highways 37 and 21 in the heart of the splendiferous Sonoma Valley, is at the center of Bay Area motor sports, playing host to a year-round schedule of racing.

Like tracks  everywhere, the Sonoma Raceway is not just for gear heads; it’s a great place for families too. With tickets going on sale this week for the upcoming season, here are six things you can do there with your children:

Lots of kids and families are in the stands when NASCAR comes to Sonoma Raceway.

Lots of families are in the stands when NASCAR comes to Sonoma Raceway.

1.  See a NASCAR race. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup is set for June 22, and it’s always a blockbuster attraction. It should be even more popular this year because  kids’ pricing will be offered for the first time for this weekend. Children under 12 will be admitted free on Friday, June 20 with the purchase of an adult ticket; $10 on Saturday; and for half the price of regularly priced tickets ($69 and above) on race day.

2. See a race besides NASCAR. Other popular races are the NHRA Sonoma Nationals drag racing (July 25-27), the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma IndyCar Series (Aug. 22-24); and the FIA World Touring Car Championship (Sept. 13-14). The  Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival on May 17-18 is a splendid way to introduce the younger set to vintage Ferraris, Porsches, Corvettes, Mustangs and other aging beauties that can still run and race.

3. Venture into the pits. Sonoma’s 2014 track pass will get you a variety of perks, including tickets to the major races and pre-race pit passes to NASCAR, IndyCar and drag racing. Cost is $395. Nothing beats being able to see—and hear—these amazing machines up close. The Sonoma Historics include a pass into the pits with  the price of admission. Continue reading

LA Lit and Toy Show Ignites Three-Day Porsche Festival

A fine example of motorized German culture that will be on display, in abundance, at the LA Lit and Toy Show weekend.

A fine example of motorized German culture that will be on display, in abundance, at next month’s LA Lit and Toy Show weekend.

For those who love Porsches—and really, besides Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, who does not?—there is a must-attend three-day Porsche festival coming up next month in Los Angeles. It’s  the LA Lit and Toy Show, and Porsche enthusiasts from around the world come to see it and be part of it.

The Lit and Toy Show is Saturday, March 1, and it takes place at the Los Angeles Airport Hotel on West Century Boulevard just off Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. Fly into LA and you’re basically there, although you’ll miss a lot if you just spend the weekend holding down a seat at the Landings Bar. There are two other major parts to this weekend triad—open houses of Porsche restorers, and an all-Porsche car show in Anaheim—that make it so worthwhile.

First things first. Begun in 1983, the LA Lit and Toy Show is the largest Porsche show of its kind the world, with more than 200 tables filled with tens of thousands of new and vintage Porsche and VW books, toys, posters, photos, models, catalogs, small trim items, and parts and equipment. If it’s a Porsche collectible and you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist. Continue reading

Searching for Alexander Cartwright, Father of Baseball, in Hawaii

Cartwright as a young man before he went west to California and Hawaii.

Cartwright as a young man before he went west to California and Hawaii.

Hawaii is known for its incredible beaches, surfing, and its warm, lovely people. But baseball fans with a love for the game’s rich history will also enjoy its connection to the game’s 19th century founder, Alexander Cartwright.

Cartwright’s plaque in the  National Hall of Fame in Cooperstown describes him as the “Father of Baseball,” owing to the fact that while he was living in New York City in the 1840s, he founded the New York Knickerbockers, the first organized baseball team. and played in the very first baseball games ever played, in the aptly-named Elysian Fields in Hoboken.

Then, in 1849, with the discovery of gold in California, he left his family and friends and came west, hoping to strike it rich. This never happened, and he stopped only briefly in gold-crazed California before hopping a steamer to the place that would become his home and final resting place, Honolulu. (Once there, he sent for his wife and children, who came to live with him.)

Cartwright, who died in 1892 at the age of 72, was buried at the Nuuanu Valley Cemetery on 2162 Nuuanu Avenue in Honolulu. In fact, every April 17—the day of his birthday—a group of baseball enthusiasts gather at his headstone to celebrate his life and the opening of the new baseball season. (The author Joseph Campbell is also buried there.) Continue reading

New Edition of ‘The Golden Game’ Going to Bat Next Year

Golden Game book coverMy history of California baseball, The Golden Game, will be released in a revised new edition in the spring of 2015 by the University of Nebraska Press. It was first published in 2004 when it enjoyed great success, receiving high praise from NBC’s Today Show and Sports Illustrated, among many others, winning awards, and being named to several best book of the year lists.

But even good books go out of print, and so it was with The Golden Game. Thankfully, though, the esteemed University of Nebraska Press in Lincoln has decided to give it a new life and bring it back in an updated new edition next year. Continue reading

Cox, LaRussa Add to Californians in Hall of Fame

By Kevin Nelson

When it was announced last week that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine would be joining Bobby Cox in the Baseball Hall of Fame, all three of them to be inducted at next summer’s ceremonies in Cooperstown, their shared connection was impossible to ignore. Each achieved his greatest success in baseball while with the Atlanta Braves, Cox as manager and Maddux and Glavine as ace pitchers in the club’s sterling rotation.

But the news from Cooperstown also spotlighted another long-running, if far less commented upon, trend: California’s domination of baseball’s Valhalla. There are more people from California with plaques honoring them in the Hall of Fame gallery than from any other state.

Although he managed the Braves for a quarter of a century, winning five pennants and a World Series title, Bobby Cox grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, playing schoolboy ball at Selma High. While he did not grow up in California, another member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 is strongly identified with the state. Tony LaRussa, three-time World Series-winning manager of the Athletics and Cardinals, lives in the East Bay and is well known as the founder of an animal rescue and adoption foundation there.

Considering only those players and managers who were born or grew up in California, here is a list of the many Hall of Famers who spent their boyhood learning the game and honing their skills in the Golden State.  Includes the year they were inducted and brief notes about their California connection and accomplishments in the game:

Sparky Anderson. 2000. Grew up in Los Angeles, Dorsey High.  3-time World Series-winning manager.

Before he became a Hall of Famer for the Kansas City Royals, George Brett grew up in southern California.

Before he became a Hall of Famer for the Kansas City Royals, George Brett grew up in El Segundo in southern California.

George Brett. 1999. El Segundo High, El Segundo, Ca. . Houdini with a bat, 305 lifetime average.

Bert Blyleven.  2011. Born in Netherlands, grew up in SoCal. Santiago High, Garden Grove. 287 career wins powered by nasty breaking stuff.

Gary Carter. 2003. Born Culver City, Sunny Hills High in Fullerton. The Kid: a catcher with HRs in his bat—324 lifetime.

Frank Chance. 1946. Born Fresno, Fresno High. Hard-nosed Cubs player-manager.

Bobby Cox. 2014. Grew up in San Joaquin Valley, Selma (Ca) High. World Series-winning manager with Braves.

Joe Cronin. 1956. Born SF, Sacred Heart High. Player, manager, executive.

Joe DiMaggio. 1955. Born Martinez, grew up SF. A Yankee legend and his generation’s best center fielder.

Bobby Doerr. 1986. Born LA, Fremont High, San Diego PCL. Stalwart Red Sox second-sacker. Continue reading

Hayward Boy Makes Good, Grows Up to Be Vegetarian Author

When I was a boy growing up in Hayward, California we lived next door to the Grahams—Marie and Bruce Graham and their two sons, Randy and John. Marie, the mom, was one of the sweetest people in the world and their dad, Bruce, had a crusty and ribald sense of humor. He worked at the Ford dealership in San Francisco and would bring home firecrackers from Chinatown for the 4th of July. We’d set up tin cans in their backyard and blow them high into the air using the firecrackers.

Randy Graham, vegetarian cookbook author and one-time Hayward dude.

Randy Graham, vegetarian cookbook author and one-time Hayward dude.

I had not seen Randy since his dad passed away years ago, but we happened to connect the other day through Facebook and it turns out he has grown up to be a…vegetarian! Not only that, he writes a popular blog about it, the Valley Vegetarian, as well as being a columnist for some newspapers (he and his wife live in Ojai in southern California). He’s also become a vegetarian cookbook author. His latest, just out last month, is So You’ve Inherited a Vegetarian…Now What?

In our emailing and Facebooking I explained to him that I loved meat too much to give it up but that my wife was a great cook and we’d certainly have fun exploring his recipes. In response he recommended this potato casserole dish that he described as one of his favorite comfort food dishes. It’s not his recipe, he explained, but he loves making it for Thanksgiving and other big family meals. If you like to eat, and who doesn’t, I say give it a try.

Vegetarian book


3rd Edition of Everything Father-To-Be Book Coming Soon!

Happy New Year! Coming this March will be the third edition of The Everything Father- To-Be Book, my “survival manual” for expectant dads. The book has sold 175,000 copies and  this new, revised and updated version will surely push the sales total past 200,000 and beyond. That’s pretty exciting for me, because that means that 175,000 new and expectant fathers have drawn advice and inspiration from it. As the father of four kids, that makes me feel pretty good.

The editor just sent me the galleys. Here is a sneak peek at the the introduction, which is pretty much as I wrote it almost ten years ago for the first edition: Father to be Introduction