educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom
(Posted in September 2010, updated January 2018)
1. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand how people could swim without their bodies filling up with water because of all the holes (nostrils, ears, etc.). So I didn’t learn to swim until 6th grade. The instructor got fed up with all my “logic,” took me to the deep end (6 feet), threw me in, and told me to get back to the wall by myself. I love teachers.
2. In 2004, I finally shook hands with my sports hero Magic Johnson. I’ve also shaken hands with other Laker greats (Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes, and Michael Cooper).
3. I used to do magic tricks for kids’ birthday parties. I started out as Robbie the Magic Clown, then a year or so later, I got fed up with the make-up and wore a funny multi-colored tuxedo as The Great Googly Moogly. Yes I have pictures…no you may not see them.
4. I can play several theme songs on the piano (theme songs from Super Mario Brothers, Law & Order, Cheers, Incredible Hulk, WKRP in Cincinatti, Patty Duke Show, etc.)
5. While working as a teacher at Nature’s Classroom on the east coast (at the Colebrook, Connecticut campsite), I taught students how to make an “elevator” using rope, pulleys, and a milk crate. I also taught lessons on air pressure, Dr. Seuss, and the science behind making ice cream.
6. In June of 2010, I bought a pair of sports goggles and was finally able to see clearly on the basketball court for the first time. EVER. It was a surreal experience to see things clearly (like the hoop and teammates and stuff.) I haven’t worn them since. It’s tough to get used to playing ball with something on my face.
7. In 10th grade, I was on the high school gymnastics team (Hamilton High School). I was voted “Novice Gymnast of the Year.”
8. In a silent auction, I won a Los Angeles Clippers hat signed by Clippers great Elton Brand. Since then, I have autographed items from Jamaal Wilkes (LA Lakers), Michael Cooper (LA Lakers), Caron Butler (when he was on the LA Clippers), and Sean Rooks (LA Lakers and Clippers).
9. I coached girls’ basketball for 4 years–one year at Frank Parent Elementary, one year at Malibu High School (JV), and two years at Campbell Hall high school (JV).
10. I am really REALLY allergic to lobster. I can’t even eat food that has been cooked on the same grill as lobster.
11. My father was born on the fourth of July. And he’s a twin.
12. My favorite movie of all time is The Shawshank Redemption.
13. In 1994, I drove with another teacher from Cape Cod to Boston Garden hoping we could buy tickets from a scalper for opening night of the Celtics final season in the Garden. We got tickets and we ended up in nosebleed seats by the ceiling. And we still had a good time.
14. I can recite the alphabet backwards as quickly as I can forward, and I can recite all fifty U.S. states in alphabetical order (all thanks to the wonders of the LA Unified School District).
15. My first part-time job was in a library (L.A. Public Library).
16. My wife and I had our first date back in January 1998. The date was in Santa Monica, CA and it lasted approximately thirteen hours.
17. My favorite TV show back in the ’80s was The Fall Guy. (“I might jump an open drawbridge, or Tarzan from a vine…’cuz I’m the unknown stuntman that made Eastwood look so fine. Dum dum…dum dum…dum…duh dum dum dum“). Click here to listen to the full two-and-a-half minute version of the theme song…I don’t know how to play that theme song on the piano…yet.
18. My favorite dinner is a well-seasoned rib eye steak, cooked medium, with roasted red-skinned garlic potatoes, grilled asparagus, and three ounces of Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch.
19. I am a member of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Incorporated.
20. I never drank any alcohol until my 23rd birthday. By that time, I had been teaching for about eight months in Compton for gangbangers who got kicked out of school and came to us for their G.E.D. It was time to get drunk. My best friend Greg Lewis and his wife Lisa were there as witnesses (actually Lisa and I drank while Greg supervised). We had rum and Coke…then rum and root beer…then rum and lemonade…then straight rum. Then I told them that if they didn’t drive me to the club, I would catch the bus. Good times, man…good times.
21. An ex-girlfriend of mine won $16,000 on the Wheel of Fortune game show and took me to Hawaii on my birthday back in 1997. We broke up on the plane ride back to California. (NOTE: Before anyone gets the wrong idea about me, it needs to be stated that we broke up for a really legitimate reason…and it truly had nothing to do with the fact that the Hawaii trip was over.)
22. I have an amazing impersonation of Louis Armstrong. I sang not once, but twice, as Louis Armstrong with a live jazz band and a live audience of over 500 people. The song was “All of Me.”
23. My father had six boys (no girls). I’m the oldest.
24. I can juggle fruit and eat them at the same time.
25. I collect chess sets, I play a lot of chess, and I used to teach chess on Thursday nights. I’ve only played in one US Chess Federation rated tournament. First place in the tournament was won by a nine-year-old girl.