Monday, May 26, 2014

46th Annual Wild Game Feed

New Post on July 8, 2019.  51st Annual Wild Game Feed.

New Post on May 30, 2018.  50th Annual Wild Game Feed.

New Post on June 23, 2017.  49th Annual Wild Game Feed.

New Post on June 1, 2016.  48th Annual Wild Game Feed.

New Post on May 27, 2015.  47th Annual Wild Game Feed.

My order form for tickets to the 2014 Annual Wild Game Feed in Irvine, CA has arrived!   Last year I received several hundred requests for tickets from some who were just learning about the Feed, some who didn’t order tickets when the form arrived, and some who just forgot to order (how could anyone forget?).  The reality is the Feed was sold out of tickets by about July 1st, and this year they expect to sell out even earlier.  I missed many friends last year simply because they hesitated to order their ticket when the form arrived.  Unfortunately, I do not have tickets other than my own.  I am just a purchaser like everyone else.

That being said, this is the biggest Wild Game Feed I’ve ever heard of, and it’s the best one I’ve ever attended.  The food is a carnivore’s utopia, and it never runs out.  The beer is unlimited, and it never runs out.  Last year I arrived with 78 cigars, gave away about 125, and came home with 88—a gain of ten—after consuming 6 myself.  I met many old friends, made many new friends, and I was still meeting and making friends when the sun went down and it was time to go home.

I value my friends from the Wild Game Feed.  We come from many different walks in life, and it doesn’t matter.  Male (required), old (like me), young (but at least 21), rich, not rich, just named Rich, Wall Street, sanitation worker, bottle collector—at the Feed, we are equal, and we are friends, and we will remain friends.  We are there for only a handful of reasons.  Fundraising for charities is the main reason, followed closely by food, beer, cigars, and old/new friends.  Some are there for the drawings for the great prizes, and some are there for the competitions.  But all are there to have fun.

The organizers know what they are doing, and every year I’m amazed to see how smoothly it works from start to finish.  At no time does this event appear to become chaotic or disorganized, even with more than 1,300 guests.  Each member of the Annual Wild Game Feed has a specific job, and it always gets done.  It takes a year of planning by these dedicated men to pull it off, and ‘pull it off’ they do.  While it is hard work (for them), it is also great fun (for everyone else), and it is a terrific revenue source for various charities.  To the organizers, I thank you.

Remember to order your ticket as quickly as you can.  They will sell out.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Catalina Island

Yesterday I was walking Biggie across the street at the plaza from where the Belmont Pier extends out into the ocean.  It was a nice warm day, but it wasn’t completely clear.  A light foggy haze/smog was slightly diminishing the view to distant Catalina Island, but I thought to myself, “I’ve been able to see this island almost every day for nearly twenty years.”

After moving to SoCal in 1975, I lived at the foot of Mt. San Antonio (Old Baldy) for five months before I was able to see it.  The smog was thick virtually every day, and when the smog was light, the wind was blowing dirt in thick clouds.  Finally, one day I was driving somewhere with some new friends, and I saw the mountains for the first time.

“Where did those come from?”  The question blurted from my mouth before I could stop it, and my friends looked at me as though I had just lost my mind.

It was somewhat the same thing the first time I walked across the sand at Huntington Beach.  I could hear the ocean, but I was about twenty-five feet away from it before I could see it.

For seven years I lived in SoCal, and for about two of those years, I was an independent sales rep for a number of companies.  I traveled the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Barbara to San Diego regularly and almost never saw the ocean through the smog.  And the only times I was aware of the nearby mountains was when I was in them.

Smog was, and still is, a problem, but it is nothing like nearly forty years ago.  When Rachael and I returned in the early nineties from a ten-year stay in Arizona, the effect of emission controls on vehicles and industries was beginning to make a positive impact.  By the time we moved to our present home in Long Beach, Catalina Island (more than twenty miles away) was almost always visible, and I have rarely failed to start my day by looking at it.

Today, Biggie and I walked back to the plaza, and the island was perfectly clear.  We sat down on the edge of one of the big planters on the plaza and just watched as visitors from distant places came by and pointed out across the water and commented about how large the island is.  Of course, they also took time to pet Biggie.

I’ve been told I spend too much time reminiscing about the ‘good old days.’  Yes, I have some great (and not so great) memories of times gone by, but every day is another ‘good old day’ to add to my growing list.  Sitting on the planter with Biggie, long drives with my wife, friends at the Casting Club, the Wild Game Feed, working as an actor, writing, volunteering for projects as a master food preserver, leatherwork, fishing, cooking, reading—the list keeps on going, and it’s all good.  Catalina Island is just a bonus.  Maybe some day Rachael and I will take the ferry over there.  We’ve had tickets for almost fifteen years, and yes, they’re still usable. 

I don’t think of Catalina Island as a way to turn a bad day into a good day.  It’s just a reminder of how good I have it.  I am very blessed.