Polo Anyone?

by Bob Sparrow

  I’ll tell you about my trip to the desert two weekends ago to watch the polo matches, but if you’re not staying where we did, the home of the greatest host and hostess on the planet, Walter & Patty Schwartz, you’re not going to have nearly as good a time as we did.  The ‘we’ is Jack & JJ Budd, Chuck & Linda Sager and Linda & me.  The six of us were invited by the Schwarz’s to stay in their beautiful, magnificently-decorated home in the gate-guarded community of ‘The Polo Club’ in Indio for the weekend, to attend the polo matches on Sunday at the Empire Polo Club.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and were warmly greeted by the Schwartz’s.  Walt is an interesting and engaging guy, who plays straight-man to Patty’s razor-sharp, dead-pan humor; they kept us fed, watered, entertained and in stitches the whole weekend.

We arrived on Saturday at ‘Happy Hour’, although I’m thinking that every hour is happy in this place.  I’m telling you, the Ritz doesn’t have this kind of food and beverage spread; we saw plate-full after plate-full of delicious appetizers everywhere we looked.  Walt was offering us any and every drink possible, while Patty, who is an amazing cook, was preparing the most interesting and tasty meatloaf I’ve ever had.  I took an oath not to say what was in it, truth is I don’t know, but it was delicious.

Getting ready to stomp divots

I know so little about polo that I rushed for a good seat by the pool.  But in fact the matches, on Sunday, were on the magnificent ground where Stage Coach and  the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place each year.

On this day we were going to see two matches, the USPA (United States Polo Association) Amateur Cup Finals and the USPA Presidents Cup Finals.  The festivities started with the Player Parade and Salute with a horse and rider racing around the polo field, which is about 300 yard long and 160 yards wide, streaming an American flag as the Star Spangled Banner was sung by someone with an amazing voice.

Tack Room Tavern

I could bore you with polo positions like Hustler and Pivot or the number of chukkers in a game or why even left-handers have to play right-handed, but I think I’ll bore you with some other little known and less cared about facts.  There are four players on each team and they wear the numbers 1,2,3 and 4 – always!  Did you know that they do not use the end of the ‘mallet’ to hit the ball, as you would in croquet, but rather use the sides of the mallet?   Polo horses are very highly skilled, high-speed Thoroughbreds, whose manes are clipped off and whose tails are braided in order to keep them out of the way of the mallet.  OK, enough, but one of the more interesting parts of a polo match is halftime, when flutes of champagne are provided for all the fans to grab and go out onto the field to stomp divots.  Who won?  Beats me – the red and white team won the first game, the team in the dark jerseys won the second, I think, we left early to get a good seat at the Tack Room Tavern, a great place for food and drink not far from the field.

Ho, Zellweger and Phoenix

Sunday evening was back at the ‘Schwartz Chalet’ for more food and drink and to watch the Academy Awards on their 700 inch TV, at least it seemed that big, although I may have been sitting fairly close.  While I didn’t need a lecture on life from actors Joaquin Phoenix or Renée Zellweger, I think it might have been fun to have gone “drinking until morning” with Parasite director, Bong Joon Ho.

A big THANK YOU to Walt and Patty for a most enjoyable weekend.

Post Script: A few days after returning home, I received an hermetically-sealed envelope from Patty with a note that read, “Laundering fees are yet to be determined” – it was a pair of my underwear.  Not sure where I left them, but our super hostess made sure I got them back . . .  cleaner than I left them!

 

 

THE CORONA VIRUS BLUES

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

News about the corona virus gets scarier by the day.  More cases, more deaths and more quarantined people.  The experts are saying that warmer weather in the Spring should contain the virus but, Puxatony Phil aside, we’re still several weeks away from cherry blossoms and daffodils.  I know people here in Scottsdale that didn’t go to the Phoenix Open for fear of contracting the disease given the massive crowds.  Personally, I think there is enough alcohol consumed at the event that germs don’t stand a chance of surviving.  Still…you never know where it might appear.

 

As a bona fide germaphobe I have to admit that I’m a bit extra cautious these days – there is an epidemic of the regular flu going around that has made people sick for weeks.  I keep a container of Purell in the door pocket of my car so that I can wipe it on my hands whenever I’ve touched anything in public.  I grab an antiseptic wipe when I enter the grocery store, not only to wipe down the cart handle, but also to cover my finger with it when I punch in my phone number at the check-out counter.  I’d rather have my kidneys explode than touch a door handle in a public restroom.  I don’t even use the pen they provide in a restaurant or doctor’s office to sign anything – I have my own pen at the ready, sterilized and untouched by the masses.  More and more I frequent places where I can use my Apple Pay so I don’t have to touch anything.  Okay, I know that I can be a bit over the top.  At Walgreen’s the other day a woman in front of me was watery-eyed and coughing into her hand, and then used  the keypad to punch in her number as she paid her bill.  As I approached the counter the clerk asked me brightly if I would like to put my number in.  That garnered her my five minute rant questioning how a drug store that is full of sick people with the latest flu, asks people to put their hands on something that those same sick people have touched.  She told me that they do wipe down the keypads several times a day.  I rolled my eyes.  Clearly the powers that be at Walgreen’s need to teach their employees about how germs get spread.  Maybe I could consult.

In any event, I think most people agree that avoiding the flu, and particularly the corona virus, requires a good immune system.  Eating berries of any sort is highly recommended and in particular the elderberry.  At first I thought that might be a berry for old people but, turns out, it’s been the basis of moonshine and cough syrup for generations.  It was even featured in the movie Arsenic and Old Lace where the aunts used it in their deadly pursuits.  Aunt Martha gave the recipe: “For a gallon of elderberry wine, I take one teaspoon full of arsenic, then add half a teaspoon full of strychnine, and then just a pinch of cyanide.”  Hmmmm…that might be going a bit too far.  A friend recently went to Mexico and her doctor told her to chug Elderberry Syrup before, during, and after her trip.  A few of her travel companions had the flu but my friend sailed through in fine fashion.  I found Sambucol Elderberry Syrup at Costco.  It claims to improve the immune system as well as assist heart health and allergies.  I just started taking it last week but so far I don’t have the flu, haven’t had a heart attack and my allergies actually are better.

I’ll keep you posted.  After all this if I come down with the flu I guess the joke’s on me.  Plus, it could screw up my consulting job at Walgreen’s.

Super Bowl: The Ads, the Half-Time Show, the Bets and Oh Yeah . . . the Game

by Bob Sparrow

The Million Dollar Backfield

Before the Game

I’ve started writing this blog several days before the Super Bowl, so I’m still full of optimism for a team that I’ve rooted for since 1952 when I attended my first 49er game at the old Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park – 49ers lost 20-17 to the Chicago Bears!  Those were the days of the 49ers ‘Million Dollar Backfield’ of Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, all Hall of Famers today.  The reality is that even though they were know as the ‘Million Dollar Backfield’ their four combined salaries didn’t even add up to a million dollars! As a point of reference, current 49er quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo makes about $1.7 million PER GAME!  While I’ve enjoyed the many Super Bowl years of 49ers past, particularly the two won by my former college coach, George Siefert, it’s been a little lean in terms of wins in recent years; so I’m really looking forward to this game in spite of it being played against, in my opinion, the best player in the game today, Kansas City Chief quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

I’ve concluded that people watch the Super Bowl for three main reasons: 1) they like football, 2) they are mostly watching the ads (which cost about $5.25 million per 30-second ad) and the half-time show, or 3) they like to bet.  I guess there is a fourth reason, they just like to party, but they are probably not watching much of the game or the ads!  So while I can’t comment now on the game, the ads, the half-time show or the party you attended, I can comment on the betting. OMG!

Mahomes & Garoppolo

Of course you can make the two most common bets, the outcome of the game with odds (giving or getting points) and total points scored (the over-under), but the ‘fun’ bets are called the proposition bets or ‘prop bets’.  Here’s just a few, and even though it’s after the game, you can still pretend to bet on these and see how you’d have done:

  • Will Alex Rodriguez be shown during the halftime show, where fiancee Jennifer Lopez is performing, and how many wardrobe changes will Lopez make?
  • Will Demi Lovato omit any words when singing the National Anthem, and will she perform the anthem in under 2 minutes or over 2 minutes?
  • Will the Golden Gate Bridge be shown at any time during the telecast? (the game is in Miami)
  • Will the coin flip come up heads or tails? (Tip: to date more people have bet on heads, but more money has been bet on tails)  Sorry not much of a tip was it?
  • Will there be more points scored in the 2nd quarter or the 4th quarter?
  • If you are a hockey fan who wants to combine a hockey bet with a Super Bowl bet, you can actually bet if Pittsburgh Penguin players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are going to score more points than the number of times that Mahomes will be sacked. (Answers below)

And so many more!  The estimate of total money on all bets on this Super Bowl is $6.8 billion!

Winning Chief Head Coach Andy Reid

After the Game

Well, as one might suspect from this die-hard Niner fan, I was happy with the game up until the 4th quarter, but then, not so much.  I can take solace in the 49ers loss in that they are a young team, but then again, Mahomes is only 24 years old!

Answers to above bets:  Alex was shown, Lopez had 3 wardrobe changes, Lovato sang all the words to the Anthem in just under 2 minutes, the Golden Gate Bridge was not shown, Coin toss – tails, more points in the 4th quarter, Crosby and Malkin got 2 points and Mahomes was sacked four times.

Wait ’til next year!