September 25, 2016

We’re on the very cusp of “Arizona winter” here in the Valley of the Sun. Looks like we’ve seen the last of our 100-degree days, the nights have dropped into the low 70s, and the swimming pool temperature is in the middle of crashing. There’s a chance for some final monsoony-weather this week, but it looks like our 2016 monsoon season will go down as one with very little rain and lots of dust – at least as far as our immediate area is concerned.

Sad to hear of the Marlins’ star pitcher Jose Fernandez being killed in a boating accident. Just goes to show you never know.

Saw my first Hillary Clinton supporters yesterday. Turns out she has an office right next to the barber shop I go to. Was walking in to get my hair cut and these four middle-aged, frumpy-looking women came out with their clipboards and Hillary T-shirts on. They saw me, didn’t acknowledge me, didn’t ask if I’d consider voting for Hillary. I guess they figured that my gender was prohibitive. Too bad, I would have liked to have said, “Lock her up!”.

The Red Sox are having one magical week, aren’t they? That grand salami by Dustin Pedroia following a great at bat yesterday gets them into the playoffs. Just goes to show that they’ve really got some mojo working.

…And boy, does it feel great having Koji Uehara back in the bullpen and pitching well again.

And how about those New England Patriots? Three games in 11 days and three wins, all without Tom Brady. Boston is one happening sports city these days!

Anecdotal evidence for your consideration as to how this election is going. I’m sitting at the bar at the pizza joint we frequent on Friday night nursing a Pinot Grig when an African-American woman in her 20s comes in to order some food. They’ve got CNN on one of the TVs behind the bar, and she says to me, “I’ll bet they’re trashing Donald Trump again!”. I tell her I’m sure they are, and she tells me she can’t wait to vote for him. Anecdotal, perhaps, but if I were Hillary Clinton I’d be damned worried.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:55 | Comments (0)
September 20, 2016

It seems pretty clear at this juncture that, absent something astronomically bad happening, the Boston Red Sox are headed to the post-season. And anyone who has watched them over the season – and especially the past six days playing the likes of the Yankees and the Orioles – ought to know that, for a streaky team as the Sox are, they’ve gotten hot again at just the right time. With only two weeks left and no one else in the American League East seemingly able to push them, it’s looking good for the good guys.

Clearly this is a team with only a few weaknesses at this point. Pitching-wise, sure, you really don’t know what you’re getting every time David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Clay Buchholz go to the mound, but their upside (Buchholz is the dark horse, in my opinion) is such that the odds are you’re going to get a fairly solid outing whomever goes out there. Besides, you’ve got odds-on Cy Young favorite Rick Porcello who’s riding a seriously hot streak right now. In a short series, my money is on Price-Porcello-Buchholz as your top three. Rodriguez appears to be kind of a head case, but don’t kid yourself: most teams would dream to have their #4 starter with his kind of stuff. Drew Pomerantz? They’ve got him and Steven Wright if they need them. It’s a nice problem to have.

Besides, when you’ve got a lineup that features the likes of Hanley Ramirez – wow, is that dude hot! – and David Ortiz – wow, is that dude hot! – and Mookie Betts, Xander Bogearts, and Dustin Pedroia you’re just trying to give the offense a chance to rake. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is so streaky, but if he got hot, say, around the last week of the season he could carry the team almost by himself – hey, he’s done that before. Same thing with left-fielder Andrew Benintendi, once his knee gets a little healthier. Of course, 3B Travis Shaw is a black hole at third-base – he’s proven over a season that he’s really not much more than a utility player, but the Sox have options there as well. And Sandy Leon as catcher has come back to earth a bit, but I sure like his style.

To me, the biggest improvement the Sox have made over the past couple of weeks is getting reliever Koji Uehara back. I knew, I just knew, that Koji was going to play a huge role down the stretch if he could prove himself healthy. And being inactive for a while means he’s fresh for the post-season. I just wish Junichi Tazawa had been placed on the disabled list as well so that John Farrell couldn’t burn him out with overuse. But having Uehara back means that if you can get a good six innings out of your starter you’ve got Koji, Brad Ziegler, and Craig Kimbrel the rest of the way. Not a bad situation to be in at all.

The Sox are in a seriously good spot right now – as long as John Farrell isn’t forced to out-manage his opponent. Perhaps he’s OK as a manager in the clubhouse, but the guy is absolutely one of the worst in-game managers I’ve ever seen. I would love to see a Cubs – Red Sox World Series, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another team in the A.L. as talented as the Sox are right now, so why not dream?

It could get interesting, folks – to the point where we might just need to call up the post-season magic of “Tessie”.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 20:45 | Comment (1)
September 17, 2016

An image destined to be the lasting image of the Trump campaign, and it just shows you how the mainstream media is rapidly being replaced by social media. As reported by Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit:

At his rally on Miami on Friday, Donald Trump took the stage to “Do You Hear the People Sing” from the Broadway hit “Les Miserables.”

The Daily Mail reported:

Donald Trump unveiled a new visual campaign theme in Miami on Friday – a mashup of the Broadway musical ‘Les Misérables’ and an epithet Hillary Clinton leveled at his supporters one week ago.

He took the stage, introduced by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as the ‘Les Mis’ anthem ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’ blasted through loudspeakers.

The video screen behind the podium flashed to an artistic rendering of ‘Les Deplorables’ – pilfered from Reddit – complete with USA and ‘Trump’ flags replacing the French colors, and a bald eagle soaring over the revolutionary scene.

‘Welcome to all of you deplorables!’ Trump boomed as thousands screamed ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ and ‘We love you!’

Just a word about that “pilfered from Reddit” comment: there’s a frequent commenter over at The Conservative Treehouse – one of the most popular and influential blogs of the 2016 election season – named “Keln”, and he (or she) was the one who created that “Les Deplorables” image following Hillary Clinton’s ill-advised comments on those who support Donald Trump’s campaign. And it just goes to show you how, in this election campaign, all the old rules about how campaigns are conducted and through what media, are all being rewritten.

As I’ve written in other posts, on other subjects such as music, there comes a point where a single event becomes more than just what it was intended to be; it becomes a part of the popular culture. We may have seen today a moment when the Trump campaign transcended plain presidential politics and “broke through” into popular culture, a moment where a lasting image creates a dynamic that draws people to it. I’ve always believed Donald Trump when he said his campaign is a movement, but I’ve been waiting for that place and time where that movement is given an image or rallying cry every movement needs in order to break through the traditional politics fog and into popular culture. The “Les Deplorables” image and the Trump campaign’s use of it accomplishes just that.

Over the last week we have seen Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” speech, her collapsing physically on video, Trump’s appearance on the “Dr. Oz” show with the results of his latest physical, and then on the Tonight Show where he allowed Jimmy Fallon to tussle his hair. On Friday we saw Trump’s most brilliant campaign move when he trolled the mainstream media over its insufferable badgering over Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Over all this, you have the polls moving significantly in his direction everywhere, Democrats and supporters freaking out, Hillary having a Twitter meltdown, and then, finally, the rally in Miami.

I’ve always said that if you want to know what’s really happening in a given election campaign, forget about what the media is telling you, focus instead on what the campaigns are doing. It is clear that the Trump campaign has the momentum, and has caught the Clinton campaign off-stride and on the defensive. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Hillary’s “deplorables” comment is destined to go down in history as one of the greatest gaffes in electoral politics. Thanks to Keln at “the Treehouse”, that gaffe has been put into an incredible and memorable image that will last even longer than Clinton’s ill-advised comment. And it’s all because of social media and the way the game is now played.

Kudos to the Trump campaign for exploiting this new political environment, and congratulations to Keln for all the attention he/she is now receiving. It’s well-deserved.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:03 | Comments (0)
September 16, 2016

Just a few items as we slide into the last weekend of summer…

Honestly, I shut the Red Sox game off after they went down in the eight inning. They were done, right? Come to find out they scored five times in the ninth to win it? Is that right? I can’t believe it.

Honestly, folks, whenever I read stories like this I want to cry. Very beautiful.

Honestly, folks, you can’t make this stuff up: Trump’s Sons Kill a Triceratops on Hunting Safari – Liberals Believe, And They’re Very Upset. It is pretty funny, though!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:12 | Comments (0)
September 14, 2016

It was after 11 PM last night when I heard the wind chimes outside on the back patio, something fairly unusual – typically whatever breeze there is this time of year dissipates after nightfall. So, being the kind of weather snoop I am, I just had to go out and see what was up. I open the door and walk out, and see a half-full harvest moon peeking in and out of clouds scudding from west to east above me. And that’s when I noticed it: a feeling so strange I almost had to do a self-check to see if I was imagining things.

No heat.

OK, there wasn’t anything about the air one could consider cool, either, but for so long you just get used to stepping outside and expecting the heat to envelop you instantly. And the absence of it was almost disorienting. But it sure felt good. It meant we could actually open our bedroom windows for the first time in, like, six months. It also meant that pool season would be coming to a close shortly, for once the nightly air temps drop into the 70s (as last night’s did) there’s nothing to hold up the pool temp and it begins to crash – much like Hillary did on Sunday.

It’s just the way it goes.

A month from now the heat god will switch the flip and we’ll once again be able to rediscover the joys of “Arizona winter”. It’s been a long, hot, and – for us here in the Valley of the Sun this year, a dusty, dry summer. Not sure what the winter season will bring but I can tell you we could sure use some rain.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:01 | Comments (0)
September 13, 2016

Target Handicap: 18.1
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 57 + 52 = 109
Handicap: 24.1 / Trend: 23.6 (unchanged)

So close, then again so far away
Where are the answers, I hear them everyday
— Stephen Stills, “Sugar Babe”

I’m not gonna use the fact that, thanks to a major intrastate road closure (only in Arizona have I ever seen them close an entire road on a weekend for paving), I never had a chance to warm up before teeing it up at Stonecreek Golf Club this past Saturday. That being said, I went the entire round feeling as if I hadn’t hit a golf ball for a year even though it had only been nine days since my last outing at Superstition Springs, and I have to think being able to warm up properly would have shaved a few strokes off the 109 I ended up shooting.

It was a strange day, to say the least. The short game was OK – there were a couple of flubs but that’s going to happen even on the best of days. The 34 putts I made weren’t all that bad (especially given the fact I had a four putt from sixteen feet – don’t ask!). But my game from inside 110 yards was inexplicably bad – perhaps the worst it has been all year. And this on a day when I drove the ball arguably the best I have all year. I was playing with a twelve and a fourteen handicap (Paul and Craig from Washington state, nice guys) and consistently out-drove them all day, anywhere from five to ten yards. The scorecard will show I hit only seven fairways, but except for one hole where I ended up in a sand trap, if I didn’t hit a fairway, believe me I was just off.

So I put myself in position all day long. On par 4s I was sitting anywhere from 110 to (on the longer ones) as much as 160 yards away. On the par 5s, after two shots I had no more than 150 yards away on all three. But I could not hit a green to save my life, and on several cases I couldn’t get it on the green after two additional tries. It was very frustrating to say the least.

Case in point hole #10, a tough hole that is all downhill until a ditch, after which it goes uphill to an elevated green. I nailed my drive center-cut, leaving me 148 to the pin. I chunked my 6-iron, then, with no more than 60 yards left, chunked my pitching wedge into the ditch. Took my drop, hit the next one just off the green, then chipped it to six inches for a crowd-pleasing seven. I just cannot be doing that kind of thing if I want to make my “Six Strokes Across America” tour a success! There was also a hole on the front nine where I lost my swing completely, shanking two pitching wedges into first a sand trap, and then a pond, but I was able to recognize I was over-swinging and jumping at the ball and (sort of) got it back under control on the next hole. And on the back nine, outside of that tenth hole and the eighteenth where I did the exact same thing, I was able to fairly well right the ship.

Of course, there were a couple of holes where my course management contributed to a couple of extra strokes, but that’s something I just have to recognize will always be an issue from time to time. But not hitting my irons crisply like I’ve been doing over the past two months is more of a concern, and you can bet I’ll be hitting the range a couple of times before I head out to play again. I simply have to learn to convert those opportunities when I have a chance to get on (or at least closely near) a green in regulation. I can’t let those kinds of opportunities slip past me if I hope to get my game to the next level.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:39 | Comments (0)
September 12, 2016

Now that my top ten greatest albums of all time thing is done (whew! that was a lot of writing!), here are ten thoughts for today and what promises to be a most interesting week on a number of fronts:

1. Anyone who has watched the video of Hillary Clinton collapsing after leaving the 9/11 commemoration can only come to one conclusion: that is one sick woman. She didn’t just faint, she dropped like a rock and was tossed into that van by Secret Service agents like a sack of potatoes. I’m no fan of Hillary’s by any stretch of the imagination, but I found it sickening to watch – I truly hope it’s nothing serious. But I have to repeat, that is one sick woman, and it’s not “dehydration” or pneumonia”. I’m seriously wondering if her campaign will last the week.

2. The conservative blogsphere has been speculating about her health for quite some time – check this out and this out – either of which would make sense, especially given her horrific public appearance last Monday. If either are true her campaign for president is, like, the last thing she should be concerned about.

3. I hadn’t seen this interview that she did with CNN on Friday, but thanks to Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit here it is. You look at Hillary and listen to her voice, and you tell me if this woman is healthy. She looks and sounds awful – hence, her collapse today shouldn’t have been surprising.

4. The media thought we so-called “alt righters” or “deplorables” (in Hillary’s terms) were nutjobs about calling attention to her health. They also silenced those who openly questioned Hillary’s health. Now they’re going to have to face the fact that Hillary’s health is now a bona fide issue in the campaign, and the media will be forced to cover it. At the very least, she will now be forced to release her full medical records.

5. Me, I’ve always sensed something was up, and I never bought the idea that she wasn’t actively campaigning because her campaign was convinced she already had the election wrapped up. There’s no such thing in politics as a sure thing – anything can happen. Her lack of campaign appearances – and, when she did, how short and staged they were – came across to me as more than odd. I think we now know the answer as to why.

6. So if you’re the Democrats what do you do now? Go with a safe choice like VP Joe Biden? Bernie Sanders, since he came in second in the Democratic primaries? Or do you go radical, choosing someone like Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, or even Michelle Obama? We are in uncharted waters here (to say the least!), and anything could be possible.

7. Does this mean Dr. Drew can get his show back?

8. The Red Sox / Blue Jays slugfest yesterday was as entertaining a game as I’ve seen in a long time. Two games up in the American League East, the Sox have some thinking to do about their pitching staff. Do they give Clay Buchholz another start? Do they go back to knuckleballer Steven Wright? And what about that bullpen? It was good to see Koji Uehara back in there and appearing to throw well. If they can get six innings out of their starters, having a combination of Brad Ziegler and Koji to set up closer Craig Kimbrel could make the Sox, with their offense, pretty dangerous in a five or seven game series.

9. Who wouldn’t want to see a Red Sox – Cubs World Series? Can you imagine the various subplots – not the least being Cubs GM and former Sox GM Theo Epstein? Who knows, it could happen…

10. Tom Brady who?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments (0)
September 11, 2016

…and never forget who’s trying to win the White House.
Never forget.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:44 | Comments (0)

This is so cool. I guess these are the “basket of deplorables” Hillary Clinton is talking about?

I don’t care what anyone says, and no matter how the PGA Tour tries to gin up interest, the FedEx Cup playoffs are a snooze.

I’m OK with this if Tiger is, but I just have a feeling that somewhere down the line he’ll tweak his back again and that will be that.

I talked about the virtues of Paul McCartney’s bass on the Beatles tune “Rain” in yesterday’s post – here is what it really would have sounded like, and on a Rickenbacker, no less. I’m so jealous – he makes it look so easy!

…not to mention this guy who absolutely nails McCartney’s backing to “Something” from Abbey Road. Totally awesome!

The Red Sox are really interesting to watch these days. More on that on another post.

Still think if Fleetwood Mac had put a single out with this tune b/w a studio version of this it would have been a monster hit. But what do I know?

OK, so this is spooky. On Friday night I get an e-mail from David Beard, the editor of the Beach Boys fanzine Endless Summer Quarterly (of which I’d been a member for as long as I can remember) informing me I’d been a contest winner of a 50th anniversary mono edition of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album – signed, no less, by Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Alan Jardine, and Bruce Johnston – on the very same day the album appeared at #2 on my top ten list. Be advised David doesn’t know me and we have never communicated beforehand. Very weird, dontcha think?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:04 | Comments (0)
September 10, 2016

When I read the story on Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit blog I couldn’t believe it. After all, it was late on a Friday night and I’d had a couple of Pinot Grigios. I was sure that she had been taken out of context. Then I saw the actual snippet of video and I was aghast.

Then I saw this post and saw they have her on video saying the same thing, not once but twice.

This isn’t Mitt Romney’s “47% moment”, this is worse. I don’t care how much both she and her campaign are trying to walk this back, this is going to stick to her like toilet paper to her shoe for the rest of the campaign. “Basket of Deplorables” is a phrase that will transcend the 2016 presidential campaign. Trust me, it’s gonna stick.

Me? I line this, I think it’s pretty funny:

And to think, her campaign had just said we were going to see the “real Hillary” who “speaks to voters” and not about Trump. Well, at least in that way they got that right. She spoke to the voters, all right, and what they see is the real Hillary.

She’s just lobbed the Trump campaign the biggest hanging curve ball any campaign could ever expect. Anyone who knows anything about Politics 101 knows you can criticize your opponent all you want, but you NEVER criticize their supporters. To say something like this once – well, you can always argue your remarks were taken out of context or you misspoke. To knowingly and willingly say that kind of stuff on multiple occasions is not just unfathomable, it’s bizarre, and a self-inflicted, perhaps mortal wound.

The sad truth is, in this one single case Hillary is speaking the absolute truth, and I hope this is an angle the Trump campaign pounds home on every occasion between now and November 8.

I can only guess the Clinton campaign has been seeing what the real polls say and started to freak out and, in Hillary’s case, and as usual, overreact.

This is as bad a mistake as I’ve ever seen a politician make. Everyone now sees Hillary’s true colors and personality. All I can say is, “wow”. I still can’t believe it.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 20:11 | Comments (0)

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