Thursday, May 31, 2007

Welcome Dr. Sidney Wang

I am pleased to introduce Dr Sidney Wang to this blog. Dr Wang is not just an ordinary Red Crown Tail Betta. He is believed to be a reincarnated relative of King Rama II of Siam, and somewhat of an oracle. He arrived here with Yod, his caretaker on a private jet and has been actively communicating ever since. Each week, Dr Wang will be sharing stories of his adventures, and dispensing words of wisdom, advice and inspiration. Readers may submit questions for Dr Wang to consider and answer publicly here on the Palm Springs Savant blog by using the comments feature. Whether you find Dr Wang's column inspirational, amazing or just plain witty, I hope you enjoy hearing from him.

Dr Wang has taken up residence in my San Diego home, rather than in Palm Springs. He likes being close to the Pacific Ocean versus landlocked in the desert, but is learning to get along with Owen and Koshimi, who are also in residence midweek. A cat and a dog don't typically make ideal household companions for a Crown Tail Betta, but in these circumstances, Dr Wang has learned to accept his destiny.

Above: Dr Sidney Wang relaxing at home, contemplating the many mysteries of the Universe while his Booda statue looks on.
-Rick Rockhill

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Copley's on Palm Canyon

Once of my favorite restaurants in Palm Springs is Copleys on Palm Canyon. Situated in the former Cary Grant estate, Copley's features "contemporary American cuisine" with an unusual twist. They make many of their dishes using fresh herbs grown in the garden on premises. With appetizers such as Hawaiian Ahi Tacos, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, it is easy to be lulled into a state of bliss. Some of my favorite entrees include Prosciutto Wrapped Muscovy Duck Breast, Lobster Pot Pie, Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahimahi and Tandoori Breast of Chicken. They have a marvelous wine list, fantastic desserts and terrific service. Juliana and Greg (co-owners) are marvellous hosts. Together with Chef Andrew Copley they make guests feel welcome and like Ohana (that's Hawaiian for "family"). Next time you are in Palm Springs, be sure to stop by Copley's and enjoy one of the best meals money can buy.

Above left: The Hawaiian Tacos: tuna tartar, avocado, green onion tossed in ginger soy dressing, presented in a sesame miso shell & topped with tobiko caviar. Above right: Baby Lettuce salad with Pears, figs and Satsuma oranges.

Above left: Grilled "HUGE" Pork Chop with crispy bacon and 3 cheese polenta cake asparagus, tomato relish, pesto drizzle, clove honey sage & jus. Above right: Organic King Salmon, with sundried tomato & basil crust, broccolini
lobster & lemon ravioli, chardonnay emulsion

Above left: Wedge Salad with organic lettuce, grape tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles. Above right: Scallops and Shrimp

Above: Tandoori Breast of Chicken, filled with Shrimp & Mango over basmati rice
organic beans, pineapple salsa, with Thai curry sauce.

-Rick Rockhill

The Weekend Update

Yesterday we rummaged through our wine cellar looking for something different to take us away. We found a few bottles of "Marilyn Merlot" that we bought a few years back. It was surprisingly tasty. I briefly retreated to the Library, my favorite room of the house. It is such an inviting room, rich red walls, chocolate-brown crown moulding, brown leather sofa, comfy side chairs, and books galore. I can lose myself in the Library, it has loads of character and mood...perfect to curl up with a glass of wine and a good book. The "Marilyn Merlot" was a perfect choice to unwind.
Sunday Dinner Party

On Sunday evening, our friends Gary & Pete hosted a casual dinner party for 12. We enjoyed a few cocktails and exchanged witty banter before dinner. Behind the bar, they had an unusual vase with the most beautiful birds of paradise; I just had to take a photo. After a sumptuous dinner, Gary served a delectable cheese cake covered in fresh fruit. It was delish!
-Rick Rockhill

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Support our Troops, wherever they may be...and honor those who have served our great nation.
-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why I Blog...

A fellow blogger, Michael recently participated in a meme for five reasons why bloggers blog. I'm participating the the meme by posting my five reasons and of course will tag a few other lucky folks to do the same.

OK so here goes: Five reasons why I blog about the things on my blog:

1. Life in Palm Springs is interesting. Without sounding arrogant or obnoxious, I live a life that most people don't lead. My primary residence is Palm Springs, and I have a home in San Diego as well. Both are interesting cities for different reasons. Aside from our beautiful warm, dry climate, Palm Springs has a rich history of old Hollywood glamour, and still attracts the Hollywood crowd, athletes, CEOs from major corporations, politicians, and even royalty. My social circle mixes and mingles with this crowd, through cocktail parties, charitable events, fundraisers and private dinners. I meet lots of interesting people. So I like to share some of the stories, photos and anecdotes from my life in Palm Springs.

2. Writing is cathartic. I find writing helps me think, it soothes my mind, relieves stress, and grounds me in a way. After a stressful day I am happy to sit down at the computer and blog away. Blogging is actually an excellent outlet for people who enjoy "stream of consciousness" writing (or talking). It empties the mind and allows me to go to sleep with a clear head.

3. I can Blog anywhere. I often take my laptop and sit poolside where I can enjoy the desert climate and my hobby at the same time. I blog from airports, hotels, trains, on the private jet, a cruise ship, or just about anywhere I like. It's a convenient hobby because it is so portable. Now how many other things can you say that about???
4. I am a ham. I readily admit that I enjoy having regular readers. I take that responsibility seriously- I try to keep the blog interesting, updated with fresh content as often as possible. The idea that anyone would be interested in reading the ridiculous things I blog about amazes me. So when I know people are following the blog, my creative juices flow even more. I carry my digital camera everywhere I go, ready for a story to break!
5. Blogging saves friendships. Since I usually like to talk non-stop about anything and everything, friends and family used to be subjected to my incessant chatter. Now I can post something on the blog, and if they are bored they can close the window. If they are interested, they leave a comment or call. So you see, I don't have to torture friends with all my crazy stories anymore.
So there you have it, the five reasons why I blog. Thanks for reading.
-Rick Rockhill

The Saturday Seven: Favorite Female Vocalists

Readers of this humble blog know how important music is to me. I enjoy a variety of music styles, but in particular, I am fond of many early women singers who have been trail blazers or trend setters. Back in the 1940's, 50's and 60's in particular, there were a variety of women who defined a style or genre of music for generations to come. In an industry often dominated by men, there were a handful of women who established themselves as trendsetters and innovators. These are women who persevered in the face of adversity, inspiring a generation of young women to follow in their footsteps. The list is long for sure, but I endeavor to narrow down my favorites, which brings me to this week's edition of The Saturday Seven: Favorite Female Vocalists

#1: Miss Peggy Lee- This multi-nominated Oscar performer is arguably the preeminent Jazz and traditional pop singer and songwriter of her time, she was also a highly prolific songwriter and producer. Famous for her "soft and cool" singing style, Peggy Lee was known for songs such as "Fever", "Its a Good Day", "Is that all there is?" and "I'm a Woman". Whenever I hear a Peggy Lee song, I'm always reminded of how ahead of her time she was. Independent, assertive and strong, yet sultry and sexy, Miss Peggy Lee defined a style for women singers to come.
#2 Ella Fitzgerald- Widely considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, "Lady Ella" earned the title as First Lady of Song. Ella was style and class, but also incredible talent; her voice was noted for its purity of tone, faultless phrasing and sophisticated intonation. She recorded and performed for nearly 60 years, winning 13 Grammy awards. Quite honestly, I could write hundreds of pages about her greatness. She helped interpret the "American Songbook" body of work and maintained it's appeal for future generations. Songs such as "Tisket-a-Tasket", "If you can't sing it, you'll have to Swing it", "Oh Lady be Good", and "How high the Moon". Her collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basey and Frank Sinatra where legendary. I grew up hearing Ella Fitzgerald and always felt like she was the definition and standard of good music.
#3 Sarah Vaughan has been described as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. She was a plain down-to-Earth girl with incredible talent. In the early '40's she teamed up with the Earl Hines band and singer Billy Eckstine, which helped shape her style and musical direction. While not exclusively a jazz singer, she became known for her keen ability to "scat", "bebop" and "vocal swoop". Her early repertoire is impressive: "If You Could See Me Now" "Don't Blame Me", "I've Got a Crush on You", "Everything I Have is Yours" and "Body and Soul. But she recorded major hits such as "Broken Hearted Melody", "Send In the Clowns", and "Tenderly". Miss Vaughan became a regular at events such as the Newport Jazz Festival and jazz clubs such as the Blue Note in New York.

#4 Judy Garland- Considered to be the greatest singer of the Golden Age of musical Hollywood, she had a voice with an incredible vibrato which conveyed an intimacy and strength in her work. Of course, at the age of 16 she became a major star for her role in the Wizard of Oz, recording "Over the Rainbow", which propelled her to mass popularity. Working with fellow teen star Mickey Rooney, she pumped out a number of hit films. Her most successful musical films was Meet Me in St Louis, where she recorded her classics: "The Trolley Song", "The Boy Next Door", and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". She was a woman of extreme highs and lows throughout her life. Her highs were incredible, for example, a performance at Carnegie Hall in NY on April 23rd 1961 was referred to as "the greatest night in show business history". Her addiction to prescription medications and alcohol ultimately led to her demise, but not before packing-in an intense career of music.

#5 Rosemary Clooney- Life magazine once referred to her the"Girl Singer" but
she quickly earned praise for having a deep, rich, and smooth voice. Her style and image were wholesome and unpretentious, which made her popular with the American public. Singing mainly standard songbook and jazz, she also had several roles in film. In 1954 she co-starred in "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby which further highlighted her talents and brought notoriety and acclaim. The Wall Street Journal has described Rosemary as “A pop icon and spoken in the same breath as Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald." Known for songs such as "Come-on-a My House", "In the Cool Cool Evening", "Hey There", Botch-a-Me" and her popular renditions of songs such as "Mambo Italiano", Rosemary made her mark on music history. And yes, she was the aunt of actor George Clooney.

#6 Dame Shirley Bassey- This bewitching and beguiling Welsh singer is perhaps best known for recording and performing the themes to three James Bond films: Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker. As the most successful recording artist in British history, Miss Bassey was honored and appointed as a "Dame Commander of the British Empire" on December 31st 1999 by Queen Elizabeth II. Top hits such as "Never, Never, Never", "Something", "Kiss Me Honey Honey" and "I am What I am" made her a fixture in pop song culture. She also recorded very popular versions of "Big Spender" 'As I love you", "Fool on the Hill", and Banana Boat Song". Her hit "I Who Have Nothing", was recently performed and popularized by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. She has sang a variety of styles, standards, pop, disco and contemporary. Her ventures into alternate styles were wildly successful. Her all Spanish lyrics recordings for the film La Passione drew critical acclaim, and in 1997, she scored a #1 hit on dance charts with "History Repeating" (with British big-beat/electronica band The Propellorheads) and caused a major sensation in the UK and US. Shirley Bassey has a great style and sound. If you don't know her and like jazzy pop music, pick up one of her CDs.

#7 Ethel Merman- Known as the "Queen of the Broadway stage" Miss Merman had a style like no other. Her powerful alto voice had incredible pitch and enunciation, which were her trademarks. Without a doubt, her signature song "There's No Business Like Showbusiness" will endure as the standard for Hollywood and Broadway awards themes. She made a name for herself starring in several Cole Porter musicals, including "Anything Goes", where the title song and "I get a kick out of you" were popularized. But it was her role in "Gypsy" where she sang "Everything's Coming Up Roses" that secured her position as a Broadway legend. Her infamous Ethel Merman Disco Album is a camp cult classic. It contains her signature show-stopper songs set to a uptempo disco beat.

Bonus: Marilyn Monroe- So much has been written about Miss Monroe that it
would be silly for me to summarize her career in this Saturday Seven post. Therefore I want to share why she made it to my list as the bonus entry. I think Marilyn Monroe's singing career was largely overshadowed by EVERYTHING ELSE. There was so much to like in her all-to brief career, that her music was just part of the tapestry of her life. Her roles in the hugely successful films "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "How to Marry a Millionaire" and "Some Like it Hot" made her a major A-list star around the world. But her songs were so good. "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend", "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", "Kiss", "River of No Return", and "I Wanna be Loved By You" were really quite good. It would be hard to compare Marilyn Monroe to the top 7 listed previously in the list, but she has a place in history as performer who made an impact with her songs.
UPDATE: Lots of feedback on who is missing from this "Saturday Seven" post. I can only pick 7, but out of tradition I always add a "bonus" entry. Being the blogosphere, I'm always interested in your opinions...keeps the blog interesting!

-Rick Rockhill

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Stevie Nicks Concert

Last night I went to see the great Stevie Nicks in concert. As usual, she put on an amazing show. Over the years I have been to over 15 Stevie Nicks concerts, not to mention seeing her with Fleetwood Mac as well. Yes, I am a Stevie groupie. She has an extremely loyal fan base; women frequently attend concerts dressed like Stevie (long flowing dresses, high heeled boots, shawls, etc. I sat next to two British girls who looked like they could have been Stevie's backup singers! Stevie did not disappoint with the visual effects- showing off her trademark shawls, flowing dresses, capes, hats, feathers and lace, not to mention a great pair of really high heeled boots!

Stevie's voice was great, she opened up singing in a lower key than usual, as she warmed up, she transitioned over to her usual vocal range and she sounded almost as good as her first solo album, Bella Donna.

It was a night of mostly classic Stevie songs:
Stand Back- Dreams- If Anyone Falls- Rhiannon- Enchanted- Gold Dust Woman- I Need to Know- Landslide- Fall From Grace- Sorcerer--How Still My Love- - Edge of 17- Rock and Roll, and closed with Beauty and the Beast

Stevie enchanted the audience all night...

Below: Stevie always greets her fans, taking the time to move across the stage accepting flowers, teddy bears, and all sorts of things.

It was such a great show that I didn't even mind paying $40 for a Stevie t-shirt!

-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Night at PETCO Park

Last night I went to PETCO Park to see the San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs. Even though I've been away from Chicago for over 7 years I'm still a Cub fan at heart. It was a good night for the Padres, scoring four home runs, easily cruising to a 5-1 victory. It was a rough game for the Cubs as they started their West Coast game series on a sour note. I was surprised how many Cub fans were actually at the game.

At one point during the game I watched in amazement as a rather large couple appeared and attempted to squeeze in their seats. They didn't actually sit into the chair, they sort of rested on the arms. But the poor people on either side of their seats had to lean in either direction, away from the large couple. Of course, they proceeded to consume several hot dogs and virtually anything that made its way past their row. But I digress....

Since I work for PETCO, (and live part-time in San Diego) I have become a Padres fan, but to be honest my heart just isn't 100% into the Padres. Maybe if they were the Palm Springs Padres...

For all you true MLB fans, the news of the night was the Boston Red Sox defeating the evil New York Yankees, 7-3. That old rivilry still evokes so much passion and excitment when they square off. Anyway, all in all, it was a fun night at the ballpark. Photo below: Fireworks go off at PETCO Park as the Padres hit their first Home Run.

-Rick Rockhill

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Proof that Google has a sense of humor

Okay… I got this from another blog and it made me laugh… you have to do this, and it is legit.

It will take less than 60 seconds to do this, I guarantee you will show someone else, it’s too funny not to!

Follow these steps:

1. go to

2. click on "maps"

3. click on “get directions”

4. type “New York” in the first box (the ”from” box)

5. type “London” in the second box (the “to” box)
(hit "get directions")

6. scroll down to step #24 of the directions and read through

-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Saturday Seven: Favorite Male Crooners

Throughout my life, music has always been important to me. Growing up in the music business, I was surrounded by pianos and synthesizers, along with various wind and string instruments. I remember touching the keys of the piano that performers like Elton John and Liberace had rented for concerts and thinking that it was really special. When Frank Sinatra would come to town, it was always a huge deal, my father in particular would speak in platitudes that were reserved only for "The Chairman of The Board". The Rat Pack were revered by members of my family, and I too was a fan. I was fascinated with the business and decided I should explore my own hidden talents.

After several unsuccessful attempts at piano, guitar and drums I decided voice lessons would best suit me. I was certain I had a great voice hidden within, kicking and screaming to come out. My vocal coach was an attractive young woman who was an aspiring Broadway star. Despite all her efforts and my penchant for stardom, there was just not enough raw talent available for her to work with. I decided to spare her any further torture and resigned myself to strictly performing in the shower. Incidentally, my watery version of "Strangers in the Night" is ready for prime time!
One outcome of those voice lessons was an enhanced appreciation for the American standards, classics, and tin pan alley songs- timeless music that never fades. These are songs and musical arrangements that contemporary artists rarely replicate. There are many artists who have performed this genre of music, but only a handful who have sung them well. Which brings me to this week's edition of The Saturday Seven: Top Male Crooners

#1 Frank Sinatra- In my view, this list must start with the great Frank Sinatra. Aside from his talent and charm, he had an attitude and presence that mystified audiences. I never heard a Sinatra song that I didn't like. His rousing style and punchy attitude put him in his own league. The rumors of his mob connections only made him more interesting to fans. All that aside, he had a great, versatile voice. There are too many to name, but "My Kind of Town", "New York, New York", "Summer Wind", "Strangers in the Night" are some of my favorites for sure. He owned several houses right here in Palm Springs, and his presence is still felt in this town.

#2 Michael Buble- (pronounced "Boo-Blay"). A more recent, young entry into this category, I am so impressed with the depth and power of his voice. I like the way he "kicks up" his voice to sound like he is singing at a noisy casino somewhere. It was actually my barber, Gary who turned me onto Michael Buble. One week he gave me a CD and I thought to myself: "Michael who??". Once I listened to his music, I was blown away with what I had been missing. He channels Frank Sinatra, yet still has a unique style and look. This Canadian kid is going far.

#3 Dean Martin- Seem wierd? Not for me. I like his voice and style. Being surrounded by guys like Sinatra, Dean wisely carved out his own niche as the suave guy who enjoyed his cocktails and a few smokes. His laid-back singing style and tipsy routine was part of the act. Always the "life of the party", Dean kept things rolling throwing in a few jokes for good measure. As a kid, my dad loved Dean Martin and would play his records. For some reason, the song "Marshmallow World" always stuck with me. Even in his later years, Dean would be surrounded by beautiful girls. On his variety show he had a chorus line of girls called the "Ding-a-Lings" who practically worshipped Dean like a Greek Adonis. I always liked his rendition of "Ain't that a Kick in the head", "Volare" and of course, "That's Amore" (listen)

#4 Sammy Davis Jr.- Sammy had a lot of energy and talent packed into his tiny frame. His booming voice and nimble dance routines made him famous. And that laugh, oh how he could laugh. I remember seeing him in concert wearing gold rings on every finger. As a member of the Rat Pack, he played an important role, not only as a fall guy, but also to help break down racial barriers. Even before it was cool to do so, Frank Sinatra always made sure Sammy was treated the same as he was, even if it meant a few fist fights to make his point. I always liked his signature "Mr Bojangles" and "The Candy Man".

#5 Harry Connick Jr.- I've liked Harry Connick Jr since he first burst onto the scene. I first heard his music back in 1985 and thought, wow not only is this guy a great singer, but he is handsome too. He gained early notoriety as a talented kid who liked the sound of a big band behind him. He has experimented with a variety of music styles in his career, demonstrating his talent and individuality. When you hear Harry speak, his N'Awlins accent is very charming. He was great in TV's Will and Grace, as Grace's husband.

#6 Johnny Mathis- What needs to be said about Johnny Mathis? His signature songs include: "Chances Are" and "Misty". Could there ever be a more quintessential version of "The Christmas Song"? It is a classic. As a multiple Grammy winner, he had many top 40 hits, and sang many Broadway and movie classics including "Moon River". Even Frank Sinatra had this to say about him: "His voice is one of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable in the world. He epitomizes class and romance." Anyway I like him too. In an interview back in 1982 he confirmed that he was gay, but subsequently received death threats and never mentioned it again. (can you blame him?)

#7 Barry Manilow- He's practically my neighbor! This Palm Springs resident finally has the respect he deserves. After many years being viewed as just a 70's pop singer, Barry emerged again on top of his game with several new hit records and a mega-contract in Las Vegas. Back in 1978 five of his albums were on the best-selling charts simultaneously, a feat equalled only by Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis. Songs like "Mandy", Copacabana", and "I Write the Songs", are my favorites. Barry Manilow is a talented singer, songwriter and producer. His projects with Bette Midler have won him awards and accolades. There are not too many performers doing what he is doing, so he makes it to my list at #7.

Bonus Crooner: Matt Monro- So you are thinking who the heck is Matt Monro, right? Well Matt was sort of the British Frank Sinatra. His voice was clear and smooth. He was known for hits like "My Kind of Girl" and "Born Free" But he is perhaps best know by James Bond fans as signing the theme to "From Russia, with Love".

-Rick Rockhill


This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

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