Saturday, November 6, 2010

More than Champions

So maybe I have a little explaining to do... as for why the blog has gone "quiet." Well, in my mind this is Really Playing for Pizza - which to me is all things European, and currently, I've been, well, grounded here in North America. I've been coaching QBs for the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes, who are currently 6-1 and ranked #21 in the nation according to It's been an absolute blast. In addition, I've been working hard on developing a documentary about the program and specifically my grandfather, NCAA Hall of Fame coach Frosty Westering. Here's a quick look at a 3 minute "teaser" for the program -- we're aiming to have it finished early in 2011. Let me know your thoughts! JJ

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Callsign: Blondie

Check out Christie's latest story for King5 Seattle's morning show - flying with a stunt pilot! I'm proud to say that "the girl who is usually queasy on a roller coaster" fared just slightly better after pulling 10 G's with an Air Guard stunt pilot. And no, I didn't take any offense when she called the experience on live TV "the most exciting thing I've ever done." Haha!

You can read more about this experience and follow all of Christie's adventures on her blog -!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Christie joins "The Home Team"

Congratulations to my wife, Christie Johnson, for securing a job as the newest reporter for King 5 TV in Seattle! King 5 is the NBC affiliate in the Emerald City, and has been the leading station for many years. Christie will be working on the "King 5 Morning News" which airs from 5 - 7am on King 5, and then from 7 - 9am on King's sister station, Kong 6. I'm so proud!

Christie's first morning on King 5 included a trip high above the air!

Christie's role will be to do lifestyle pieces and cover interesting events around the Puget Sound region... seemingly a perfect fit for her! She kicked off her time at "The Home Team" by highlighting Seattle's School for Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA). Of course, "normal" reporters would be content to just provide a little info, but of course Christie jumped right in and executed a sweet move high above the air! It was awesome to watch!

You can follow Christie's exploits on Twitter by following @cjohnsonking5 or by logging on to

~ J. Twice

Monday, July 5, 2010

An Explosive Fourth of July

Having been on foreign soil the past few years, I've missed the American tradition that is our independence day, the 4th of July.  Typically it is a time for BBQ, family, and fireworks -- our family just leans towards the "on steroids" side of fireworks.

You see, my uncle Scott Westering -- when he's not acting as the head football coach of the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes -- lights off huge holiday firework shows.  He's been doing it for almost 30 years now, something he began way back in college when the explosives were nothing more than sparklers.  Ok, maybe a little more.  But while other "big time" shows have switched to computer-triggered explosives, he has chosen to remain "pure" to the legacy of fireworks by still shooting off his shows the old fashioned way, with highway flares.  While this may not seem the most safe, it does offer the highest amount of adrenalin for those involved!

This year, as in the past, he was responsible for shooting the big Fort Lewis Army Base show.  And as my parents have clung to their last amount of juristiction over me and forbid me from grabbing my own flare, I decided to get up close and personal into the action and show everyone what it's actually like to shoot off a fireworks show, as most people haven't been close to smelling the burning napalm. Or was that 'Nam? I digress... so without further ado, here is the Jason Johnson HD Fireworks Video for 2010!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sicilian Beaches

The unbelievably clear water of Aci Trezza

Two years ago, before I came to Sicily, I got to "meet" a few of my future Catania Elephant teammates in an online chat room. They began telling me about Sicily, and I knew immediately I would love it. My thought was, how can you not have a good time in a sun-drenched island surrounded by crystal blue water? The reason I start this blog with that conversation is I vividly remember there being some confusion when I asked about "beaches" -- as this word in English sounds strangely similar to another word a drastically different meaning. I was assured by the more sarcastic teammate that there were plenty of both types on the island, however there can be no more confusion as to the actual beaches of Sicily - they are spectacular.

Flying in to Trapani gives you a "foretaste of the feast to come"

We began this trip on the Western tip of the island in Trapani, just outside of Marsala. Our first beach visit was the famed "Modello" near Palermo, which I had yet to visit. We found it to be a gorgeous half-moon bay with white sand, clear water, and a handful of typical Sicilian ristorante scattering the shore. Unlike other parts of the world where beaches remain fairly constant in theme, all Sicilian beaches have their own vibe and thus draws instant comparisons. For Modello, I think "Turks and Caicos" does just fine.

Let the fun begin at Modello

Across the island near Catania, we knew the beaches like the back of our sandy feet. On Tuesday we made sure to visit Giardini-Naxos (Hawaii)...


and then on Wednesday followed it up with a trip to Playa Beach (Mexico).

Capaninne means "Little Huts" in Italian, but to me it's Mexican flair calls for a fiesta!

With the clock ticking on our final days in Sicily, we began today by heading south to Fontane Bianche, which literally means "White Sand." It lies just a stone's throw from Siracusa, which we all know is both where the Orangemen come from and where plot was invented by the Greeks some 3,000 years ago. This might be my favorite of all Sicilian beaches, as its warm water, fine grains of sparkling white sand, and overall holiday vibe make it seem like a stop in the Caribbean. Plus, the new sparkling Autostrada to Siracusa whisks you from Catania down the coast to this hot spot in less than 45 minutes! Incredible...

Fontane Bianche (Caribbean)

So while Sicily may not be as accessible as Hawaii to those West Coast Americans, or the Caribbean to those in the East, why not book a trip around the world by making your next beach vacation a Sicilian Beach Extravaganza?

If you lived here you'd be home right now.

~ J. Twice

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catania Musings

You can make the Super Bowl, but if you haven't had Cannoli...

Being the "extreme experience" traveler that I am with such an over-abundance of curiosity, I make it a point to seek out all the local secrets of any new place I go. Obviously in my time on Sicily I have pretty much discovered all the 'secret spots' there are to know. So you can imagine my horror last night when a bunch of us were sitting around discussing local Sicilian cuisine that Richard Kovalchek - the same one who has been here for over four months - had NOT YET TRIED CANNOLI! The moment I found out I screamed "Blasphemy!" and vowed to right this wrong instantly. You see, Cannoli is not a secret, it's a revelation. An institution. A pillar upon which all dolce stands. It is... simply the best freakin' thing anyone has ever tasted. And no where else in the world can you get such wholesome goodness than in Sicily.

If Richard led the Elephants to the Super Bowl, but did not try Cannoli, his mission here in Sicily would have been a complete and utter failure.

The Master of Slant

We immediately jumped in our car (and Vespa) and raced straight for the centro de Catania. While I have discussed the many fine Cannoli establishments on the island, there is only one official ceremonial tavola calda where all who step foot on Sicily must first be indoctrinated into the mundo del cannoli: E'Toile D'or. (Or "Ecuador" for the hard of hearing.) It has perhaps the most standard of all cannoli, with a good sized slant (pistachio-covered angled edge). I immediately ordered two and placed one in front of Richard. He took a big bite and...


Another future Cannoli Lover of America. I think his exact words were, "Freakin' Amazing!" The season and Super Bowl Preparations may now continue.


GRANITA: Sicilian for "Breakfast"

So far every day we've also made sure to eat our fair dose of Sicilian specialties. One of these is Granita, a sort of gelato-esque slush that is eaten for, of all things, breakfast. It is so sweet, so light, that it literally melts in your mouth. The one pictured is a mix of Mandorla (Almond) and Gelsi (Berry). This is so good that it is worth jumping on a plane and flying 5,000 miles for breakfast. On a patio. Surrounded by beautiful people, blue water, and buzzing Vespas. But I digress.

We've also made sure to hit up some of our old 'haunts. We went to Giardini Naxos and got a message (or "rub down") from a Chinese lady. We went to Taormina for our customary Gelato and Parking Ticket. And we hit up the Market for some good ol' shopping deals and dudes from Senegal.

Can you spot the Canadian?

The weather hasn't been too "beachy" -- staying pretty cloudy and only in the low 70s. In fact, today we were one of 4 people at the usual packed "Capannine" beach lido. However, we did try to do something local last night, ending in the ultimate backfire ever:

A bunch of Elephants and friends were meeting to watch Italy's first World Cup match at a friend's huge mansion. There is a small yard where fierce games of soccer are played before and after the televised match. This has been talked about for some time. The moment we arrived we jumped out of the car and were excited to join in. Gregorio threw the ball to Christie, who promptly PUNTED the ball over the fence. Game over.

It was "like totally the most American thing we could do" and we felt terrible. We slumped into our seats and tried to look invisible during the first half. I could see the frustration on the Italian's faces, and we were sure they were all talking bad about us in their native tongue. Fortunately, a second ball was found and the game sprung up at half time. Spirits were lifted. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. Until the ball came to me -- and I promptly PUNTED THE BALL OVER THE FENCE. Game over, part 2.

At this point, I can only say that I am thankful that I am still alive. They were all very gracious, and I may be feeling overly guilty, but essentially it would be the same thing as breaking your mom's best China. On Christmas.

The good news is that after the game a third ball was found - a beach ball - and a nice game of Volleyball started. Until the ball came to the only other American within 30 miles -- Richard -- who promptly SPIKED THE BALL OVER THE FENCE!!!

3 for 3... we gotta get outta here!

Rich on the Vespa

... and into the Sunset he rides.

Ciao from Catania!!!