Cranial Constipation

by Bob Sparrow

It’s another blog about nothing!

I think most of our readers know by now that both Suzanne and I love to write.  This proclivity can have a downside, in fact, a disease called ‘writer’s block’, with which I seem to be afflicted this week.  So, I’ve been pondering all facets of my life to come up with something intelligent and interesting.  OK, intelligence has never been a criterion for getting into this blog.  I did just return from a golf outing in Las Vegas last week where I completed the trifecta: I lost money at every game I played, I played three rounds of horrendous golf, and went way off my diet.  So, forgive me for not wanting to revisit that memory.

I had another idea.  A few weeks ago, I blogged about ChatGPT, an advancement in Artificial Intelligence that can write for you, among other things, an original Shakespearian sonnet to your loved one, which I saw demonstrated first hand.  So, being desperate, I asked ChatGPT to write a ‘Bob Sparrow blog’.  Chat GPT went on line, read all of my blogs and gleaned that I enjoyed travel, astronomy and music, so wrote a blog about me singing the song, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’.  Like me, it tried to be funny, but mostly wasn’t.  A Shakespearian sonnet it was not,

3.1 million followers on Twitter!!

Then I thought about doing a ‘Subscription Drive’ blog – to see if I could get more people to sign up for our fee-free blog.  I see people like Harvey Weinstein, Derek Chauvin, Bill Cosby and Grand Wizard David Duke, with millions of followers, and we have less than 200 subscribers!!!  One would think that after 13 years of never missing a Monday morning deadline to delight the public, that that number would be a lot higher, OK, maybe a little higher.  I do know people who regularly read the blog, and make a positive comment to me in person, that are not subscribers.  I sometimes casually mention to them that in the right-hand column in every blog there is a place to subscribe, but they are not sitting at their computer at the time, so it’s an easy thing to forget.  I don’t take it personally; I’m thinking they just don’t want any more ‘junk mail’ cluttering up their ‘in box’, I get it!

I could do a follow-up to my last blog, which showed our backyard in shambles, but it’s still in shambles, but has progressed to the point where we are now second-guessing some of our decisions about pavers, stacked stone, coping, etc., but I’ll wait until it’s all done for a final judgement and a possible blog revisit.

“If the universe was created from nothing . . .”

With elections coming up either sooner than we’d like, or not soon enough, we see a variety of sombreros being thrown into various proverbial rings.  And while political rhetoric can sometimes be interesting, the ‘bull shit meter’ usually goes bonkers during these times, thus we here at ‘From A Birdseye View’ find something else to write about.  So rather than thinking of this blog as a Seinfeld episode about nothing, think of it as an abstention from opining on the current political climate.

One of the common refrains that Suzanne and I share with each other when we post a blog like this one is, “What did they pay?”  inferring that they got what they paid for – nothing! Having reread this post prior to publishing on Monday, I think I’m beginning to understand why we haven’t broken that 200 subscribers’ mark.  Thanks for occasionally looking at our blog.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Last week I watched a television show that took me back 60 years, to the joy of languishing on the beach, slathering Coppertone on my body, and listening to “surf” music.  The show was “A Grammy Salute to the Beach Boys” and it generated a fun, sometimes tearful, walk down memory lane.  I have always loved the Beach Boys and to this day, I have their “Endless Summer” album on my car’s hard drive.  I marvel at how I can forget why I’ve walked into a room, but when I hear one of their old songs, I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard it.  The Grammy show featured many of today’s top performers singing the Beach Boys’ hits, including John Legend, Brandi Carlisle, Hanson, Andy Grammer, Leann Rimes, and many others.  Honestly, I didn’t recognize a lot of the groups, but I appreciated that they appreciated music from almost 60 years ago.

I spent two hours singing along with the performers and reveling in memories that can only be tied to the dual teenage emotions of fun and angst. I used to know a lot about the Beach Boys, but these days I only retain water, so I decided to re-familiarize myself with their backstories.  For those of you who also grew up during this period, I thought you might appreciate the following fun, and some not so fun, facts about them.

  • Brian Wilson was left to watch his two brothers one weekend when his parents took a trip to Mexico. They left him some allowance money to feed himself and his brothers, but Brian decided to use that money to buy musical instruments and recruited his brother Carl and his cousin, Mike Love, to help him recreate the harmonies of his favorite songs.  Childhood friend Al Jardine and Brian’s other brother, Dennis, soon joined these efforts and thus began one of the most famous groups in American music.
  • The Wilson brothers’ father, Murry, decided to involve himself in their endeavors as their manager. This was both a blessing and a curse for the boys. Murry helped get the group into the public eye, but he also had a chilling dark side. For much of the boys’ childhood, Murry was physically abusive towards his sons. He would beat and spank them for even the smallest infraction of his rules.  In one of the strangest punishments, he removed his own glass eye and forced his sons to stare into his empty eye socket.
  • Murry’s abuse of his sons not only had an emotional impact on them, but it also had a physical impact as well. Brian ended up mostly deaf in one of his ears as a result of his father hitting him so hard over the years. That makes the fact that he could compose such complex harmonies and instrumentations all the more impressive.

  • Despite their reputation as the “surfer band”, Dennis Wilson was the only member of the group who surfed.  In fact, Brian Wilson has an extreme fear of water and stays as far away from the beach as possible.
  • Dennis was also the only member who initially had no musical training.  They ended up assigning him to be the group’s drummer, thinking he could pick the skill up as he went along. Because of this, the group often hired professional drummers to fill in for him on many of its early recordings.
  • One of the first songs that Brian wrote was called “Surf City.” In a gesture of friendship, he gave the song to the group Jan & Dean, instead of having the Beach Boys record it.  Jan & Dean’s recording of the song ended up reaching number one on the charts.  Needless to say, Murry was not happy.
  • One of the group’s first big hits, and still one of their most popular songs, is the classic summer anthem “Surfin’ USA.” However, rock ‘n roll pioneer Chuck Berry noticed that the melody sounded suspiciously like an old song of his called “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Although Brian has never denied that the song’s melody was a reworking of the Berry tune, a back-and-forth copyright dispute between Murry Wilson and Chuck Berry’s record company resulted in the courts crediting the song solely to Wilson, then to both Wilson and Berry. Ironically, the song’s lead singer, Mike Love, received no formal credit at all despite his claim that he wrote the lyrics.
  • During a tour in 1964, Brian Wilson suffered a full-blown nervous breakdown while on an airplane traveling between concert sites. His bandmates rushed to his aid as he began shrieking uncontrollably and shouting into his pillow. For the sake of his mental health, the group decided that he would retire from touring and instead would stay home and focus solely on songwriting and recording from that point on. The person who replaced him on that tour?  None other than Glen Campbell.

  • Although staying home gave Brian the time he needed to focus on creating more incredible music, it quickly took a dark twist. Around this time, a friend introduced Brian to psychedelic drugs, and they changed his life forever. At first, they opened up new avenues of creativity for him that would take the Beach Boys’ music to new and fascinating places, such as the Pet Sounds album, but their effects also added tremendously to the mental health struggles that he was already facing.  Soon Mike Love and Brian Wilson began to fight about the direction of their music.  In addition to the discord, they also suffered the tragic death of Dennis Wilson, who drowned in Marina Del Ray in 1983.
  • After Brian regained his mental health, the group re-formed and in 1988 they released the song “Kokomo”, an instant classic that became their first Number One hit since “Good Vibrations” in 1966. The 22-year separation between these two tracks marked the longest-ever span between two Number One hits by any single band.
  • In 2023 Mike Love and Brian Wilson are still feuding.  Love and Bruce Johnston (who joined in 1965), have put together a “new” Beach Boys band and will begin a nation-wide tour in May, featuring all of the classic songs from the 60’s.

I don’t know if I would go see the “new” band, even if it was playing across the street.  I guess I’d rather listen to my old CD and remember the original group, when they were in perfect vocal harmony, when we were all young and tan, and the summers were indeed, endless.

The Storm Before the Calm

by Bob Sparrow

After recent trips to Hawaii and Palm Desert, and getting ready for a trip to Spain and Portugal next month, I should be content with just relaxing in our backyard for a few weeks, however . . . the backyard is anything but relaxing.  Those who have been to our backyard might be wondering why I couldn’t relax in our ‘Hawaii-transported-to-California’ atmosphere. Well, late last month we decided that things were looking a little tired out there, Hawaii was looking more like Hawaiian Gardens, a city in the suburbs of Los Angels, next to a freeway, known for its gambling casino and not the least bit tropical.  OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was 30 years old and in need of a facelift. As those who may have gone down this path before, know that a facelift can often turn into a complete body makeover – and so it did.  I have to say, it pained me to see the crew come in and demolish our pool and yard, eliminating our large planter and three beautiful palm trees that I planted 30+ years ago.

Deciding what to put in after all was demolished was not easy.  We visited several tile and pool places and got samples and were expected to pick a paver that’s going to cover most of our backyard, from a sample six inches square!  We get to look at one piece of stacked stone to ‘imagine’ it covering all the areas it’s supposed to cover.  We looked a lot of photos of pebble tech, but photos and real-life colors aren’t EXACTLY the same.  Other issues included the breakage of existing sprinkler lines during the demo process and, of course, rain.  We needed the rain, I get it, but enough already!

Linda and I didn’t agree on everything, but we were finally able to find middle ground when choosing pavers, stacked stone, pool tile, pebble tech, coping and stucco color.  Yet to be agreed upon are things like new furniture, umbrellas, fire-features and whatever else is going to end up back there.  I did come to realize that I needed to acquiesce a bit, as Linda’s love for negotiation helped get us the best deal – although she reminded me, ‘best’ is a relative term and not to quit my day job!!

One of the benefits we really didn’t count on, was having a Port-O-Potty in our driveway for the first half of this year – it’s really handy when I’m working in the front yard and need a bathroom break – we might just leave it there!

I’ve included a couple of photos of the wreckage, which look akin to the ravages left by Hurricane Iniki, the worst hurricane to ever hit Hawaii – winds of 145 mph, with gusts up to 225 mph.  OK, maybe I’ve taken a little liberty with the truth here, but it’s a mess, a wet, muddy, rocky mess.  But sometime, hopefully by summer, we’ll be sipping Margaritas and Mai Tais by the pool and second-guessing our choice of . . . just about everything!



This post will be short, for reasons that will become clear.  But first, I have to applaud my former school, San Diego State, on reaching the NCAA basketball Championship game.  Granted, while I spend every Saturday in the fall watching college football, I do not usually follow college basketball.  In fact, before last week I could not have named one player on the SDSU team, much less the coach.  But I’ve been paying attention since they beat Alabama, the #1 seed.  As a diehard Pac 12 (or whatever our number is now) fan, I love any victory over an SEC team.  San Diego State is a relative newcomer to the NCAA tournament, and I admire their underdog mentality.  Frankly, at half time I had pretty much given up on them.  But the buzzer-beating basket to clinch the game was one for the ages. Who would have thought that lowly SDSU would reach such heights? In the game, “Never Did I Ever”, I would have placed one of my alma mater’s being in the Final Four as one of my big lies.  So, I’m very proud of a state school reaching the pinnacle of college basketball.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for tonight.  An Aztec win might not be the ultimate Cinderella story, but it’s darn close.

Now, an explanation of why this post will be short.  After more than three years of ducking Covid, both my husband and I came down with it two weeks ago.  He is recovering from tongue cancer surgery (yes, a bit of a buried lead) and his tongue is still swollen, so I was very concerned about how Covid might affect his already-compromised ability to swallow.  Our doctor ordered Paxlovid for us in an attempt to usher the virus out at quickly as possible.  Fortunately, my husband mostly had the sniffles and after four days he was feeling much better.  I experienced more symptoms than he did but after a week I tested negative.  Alas, just like my SDSU team, we’re also good at rebounding, as late last week we both tested positive again.  The main activity in our house these days is napping. And although many of my friends blamed it on taking the Paxlovid, in another San Diego connection, the doctors at the UCSD School of Medicine analyzed a large population of people with Covid and found that the number of people who rebounded was the same, whether they were on Paxlovid or not.  So, I can’t even blame the drug.

The doctors say to eat chicken soup, rest and watch Netflix.  I’m adding in some cake and hope that by next post I have the energy to write something more entertaining.  In the meantime, if you want entertainment tune in to the Championship game tonight.  GO AZTECS!