Big Game 2003
At the Confluence of El Camino Real and El Camino Real

The warning signs began early in the weekend, with Schwartz sending snow down from Canada into the Northwest.

The faithful arrived in the Bay Area for another go-round of festivities, but a dark cloud loomed. Lowell's Day at the Races proved disastrous. Despite betting on up to three horses per race, I cashed only one $2.40 ticket over the course of an eight-race afternoon at Golden Gate Fields. Zack Lowell did slightly better - he bet the 3 horse on every race and cashed in twice. Dave won big early, then spent all of his winnings at the bar - "I'll take $4.75 to place on the brandy and coffee."

Even "Give Away Joe" in the eighth "gave way" and my final betting slip was torn asunder.

Gordon Biersch was the next stop, and the betting resumed. The Bertozzi over/under line was quickly established at 10:45 p.m. Malie deserted us, opting instead to do something fun. DeMar was having dinner with his new boss. (He now works for a middlebrow winery, and we hereby demand all the free boxes of wine we can drink).

Vic arrived via Palo Alto/Berkeley, all on public transportation. T and Coffrini strolled over from work. Singer was busy at either the West Bank of Paris or the Davis Econolodge.

Yet while we jovially slurped beer under the Bay Bridge, further disaster was looming. Across that bridge, Cal would lose to Cal Poly in basketball after blowing an eight point lead in the final two minutes.

However, we were gratefully oblivious to the events as we left the city. Our radio instead was tuned to the "B Side Weekend," where we listened to the original "source code" band that inspired Spinal Tap. It was the band Dio (featuring, opportunistically, a fellow named Ronnie James Dio). Our first thought was that "B Side Dio" was actually a redundancy. Over the heavy metal whine of Richie Blackmore's guitar, Ronnie James snarled something about:

" .... in the cit-ay ay ay!!"
" .... looking pret-tay ay ay!!"

Foregoing the staid environment of Knuckles Sports Bar, we ventured into the streets of Palo Alto and to "The Island."  Where is that, you say? Well, it's on the corner of El Camino Real and ... uh, El Camino Real. Bertozzi tried to find us, but the directions were confusing:

"Go north on El Camino until you reach El Camino, and it's right in front of you." Still, he covered the under.

The Island turned out to be a vortex in the space/time continuum. There is no intersection of El Camino and El Camino, but that's where we were. We encountered the one-eyed bartender who would mysteriously say yes while shaking his head no. Even the dice at the bar had "eyes" missing.

We also encountered the bar hag, who asked us to explain why her ex-husband had called. Had to be for either a booty call, we told her, or for some money. She seemed flattered by the first response, and a little insulted by the second.

A sign on the wall said cell phones were prohibited at the bar. It didn't matter because a cell phone signal can not be received within a hologram. A call over the land line came for T, and within seconds, he was gone. No one saw the door open for him to leave. We looked outside but he wasn't there, either. Did the bar move when he went outside for a moment?

A half hour later, I began to panic. "Where's Vic," I screamed. Had he fallen into the vortex, too? "Relax, Greig, he's just over at the jukebox," Doug reassured me. Whew!

As we departed, we noticed The Island was serving a "Complementary Thanksgiving Dinner" next week. The idea, apparently, is to keep the regulars nourished and alive though the holidays.

Saturday began more optimistically. The tailgate was easy to find, as Pepe brought the T-Bear. In addition, unlike The Island, the tailgate was located at the intersection of TWO streets, not one. We were the toast of the pre-game, as Cal fans gawked at the car and the spread of food and drinks.

Nauenberg and Stump arrived, as did Malie sporting her fiance Matt and a shiny ring that was once her grandmother's. (Grandma hasn't noticed that it's missing yet).

Alas, we belatedly came up with the idea to ensure a profit for the party by charging people to have their picture taken by the car:



We all know about the game. The curse and dread was upon us in the first half with fumbles and interceptions. Tedford had to go to the 1980 playbooks to come up with a second half strategy. He found the much-overlooked, but effective, "Fumble Recovery Man" offense, which worked to perfection in the second half. Cal went on to win, in great thanks to the offense installed by Bertozzi more than 20 years ago.

Cal's road win at Stanford was its first since the last time Michael Jackson was arrested for child molestation. Unrelated, Ridge's son Kevin is 2-0 at Big Games.

Post-game lead to another bar on El Camino, but wisely we chose one that intersected with a different street. On the way, we tuned into a new radio station that was (we hope, inadvertently) in the middle of a "Paul Rogers Weekend."


The night ended in San Mateo with a massive craps game. The adults partied,  while the Lowell, Davis and Hoole children took turns jumping from the top of the bookshelf onto a stack of mattresses (that had children underneath them). No serious injuries were reported.

A brunch was scheduled for Sunday at a two-street intersection.