December 17, 2018

[Ed. note: Is Phil Spector still around? I checked his Wikipedia page and there’s no indication he has, as they say, left this earthy coil, so good for him. And screw Robert Mueller, while we’re at it – he’s the one who should be in prison. But this is what life is like in 2018 America. It’s all about zero respect for both the president and the office that he holds. Man, do I long for the innocence of 1963 – the year Phil put his holiday gem together. We weren’t surrounded at that time by social media “social justice warriors” and their pathetic daily outrage at anything and everything that offends their LGBTQUVWXYZ, etc. etc. sensibilities. Screw them too.

But I digress.

Merry Christmas, Phil – you’re still a musical hero of mine, and you changed the way pop music commemorated the season.]

That’s right, cats and chicks of all ages, it’s that time of year again. I know the guy’s still sitting in a prison cell, whacked out, burned out, and for all intents and purposes checked out of society and the rock n’ roll world he was once such an iconic part of. But heck, it is the Christmas season and I know it’s not REALLY Christmas until I slap into my CD player the best damned rock n’ roll Christmas record of all time. Which is (for those of you cats and chicks who may not be hip to these kinds of grooves), Phil Spector’s magnificent “A Christmas Gift For You”.

I know what you’re thinking – that’s just The Great White Shank spoutin’ his “yeah-i-know-he’s-in-jail-for-murder-but-believe-me-Phil-Spector-really-was-a-genius” bull$hit, but in this case you need to give me a break. ‘Cause it’s not just me, it’s a whole range of critics across the media spectrum, from Rolling Stone (who rated it #142 in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time), to bloggers like Hip Christmas and BlogCritics. BC’s praise of the album and its greatness is especially spot-on:

A Christmas Gift For You contains thirteen performances, all captured during that incredible early sixties period when Spector was producing these amazing records. You already know all of the songs, as they have all become tried and true radio staples at Christmas time over the years. Song for song, the wall of sound production — with all of its bells, whistles, and strings — captures all the magic and wonder of Christmas like very little music I can think of. When you hear these songs, it’s like being instantly transported to a kinder, simpler time. It really does feel like Christmas.

In addition to the Ronettes and Crystals classics already mentioned, the standouts here include Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and a version of “White Christmas” so gorgeous you’ll be checking your window for snowflakes. On Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans’ “The Bells of Saint Mary,” the bells and the castanets ring gloriously amid a swirl of gospel-charged backing vocals.

So the thing is, Phil Spector’s recent legal troubles aside, this record just doesn’t sound any different to me. For my money, it’s still the single greatest Christmas record ever made. And tougher sell that it may be these days, it will definitely be on my CD player when the guys and I get together for some Christmas cheer next weekend.

For me, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.

The album, considered by many to be Spector’s finest piece of collective work (The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, The Righteous Brothers’ “(You’ve Lost That) Lovin’ Feelin'”, and, of course, Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” being singular achievements), had a bumpy ride on the road to becoming a much-loved and respected holiday pop classic. Originally recorded during the summer and fall of 1963, it was understandably overlooked in those tragic weeks following the assassination of JFK and then virtually forgotten. It was only until its re-introduction to the public on the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1971 – at the urging of John Lennon and George Harrison (both of whom utilized Spector on their first post-Beatles’ solo albums following his work on Let It Be) – that the album got radio play and finally earned its long-deserved place in pop music history.

So what exactly is it about A Christmas Gift For You that makes it both a holiday pop classic and a piece of work sufficient enough to warrant recognition among rock’s all-time greatest works? David Sprague, in his review, puts it simply: “[Spector’s] “wall-of-sound” technique is perfectly suited to the music of the season, as he proves with layer upon layer of piano, sleigh bells, buoyant percussion, and, of course, those legendary Spectorsound harmonies.”

True enough, but it’s only after you buy it and crank it up VERY loud that you start to appreciate not just the massive sound Spector lovingly and painstakingly crafted, but the way his session players and musical artists make the most out of the material given them. Here, Spector’s artists The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and Bobby Sheen are simply vocal instruments in the overall mix, working within the material and the arrangements, not overpowering them. Listen closely, and you begin to see how the subtleties within each arrangement illustrate Spector’s respect for both the material and the genre that brought him such fame and respect in his day:

* On “White Christmas”, Darlene Love’s lead is beautifully understated (something virtually unheard of in this post-Whitney armageddon of Britneys and Christinas who sound like wailing alleycats in heat). And listen to how the pianos, basses, and saxes (alto and tenor) underscore the rhythm, and how beautifully they finish the song’s fade-out. Magical.

* On “Frosty The Snowman”, Ronnie Spector takes a harmless children’s tune and turns it into a holiday pop masterpiece. Her earnest vocal is the showpiece here – think ‘Frosty’ meets ‘Be My Baby’, with enough warmth and sweetness to turn ‘the Frostster’ into a puddle of lukewarm H2O. Loved hearing it in that iconic scene in GoodFellas where Jimmy goes nuts with everyone buying expensive stuff after the Lufthansa heist.

* On “The The Bells of St. Mary’s“, Bobby Sheen’s lead is sweet and soulful out in front of a driving rhythm highlighted by chimes and Hal Blaine‘s amazing drumwork on the fade-out. Oh, and that’s Darlene Love doing the “yeah, yeah”‘s towards the end.

* The Crystals’ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” rejuvenated the classic so much so that the artists as varied as the Jackson 5 (ugh!) and Bruce Springsteen, among others, felt it necessary to pay it homage with their own versions. Listen for how the bells tinkle out Brahms’s Lullaby behind La La Brooks’ spoken intro – talk about attention to detail!

* On “Sleigh Ride” The Ronettes give a big fat wet kiss to Leroy Anderson’s classic arrangement; their now-classic “ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding” back-up is pure icing on this sweet holiday confection.

* “Marshmallow World” is a fun piece – dig the opening piano with an absolute ton of echo on it. And listen to how the saxes underscore the piano/guitar rhythm – you’re talkin’ Wall of Sound here, baby! The mix has always sounded a little muddy to me, but I think that’s just the sheer number of musicians playing at the same time – Phil always did his mixing live while the entire ensemble was playing. Darlene Love’s vocal is energetic and playful, a great performance.

* “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. You don’t get the #2 slot on my Top 10 Christmas list for nothing. Simply put, there is nothing wanting in this recording – the performances are top-notch throughout. Ronnie Spector’s lead is both devilish and sexy, and the arrangement rocks. Listen for the piano fills and the sleighbells workin’ behind the saxes. It almost sounds as if Ronnie is slurring her s’s here (‘kishing’ Santa Claus); I think she’s doing it deliberately so I fall in love with her voice all over again every year at this time.

* On “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, listen for the guitar riff (Tommy Tedesco? Barney Kessel?) that frames the song throughout, a style similar to what Brian Wilson would later employ on The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” a couple of years later. There’s also a piano (and guitar?) doing something funky from the instrumental break onward, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.

* “Winter Wonderland” is a faithful and fun rendition. Listen for those trademark shimmering strings featured throughout – they sound kinda funky to me – and how drummer Hal Blaine absolutely beats the daylights out of his toms on every fill. Darlene Love’s vocal is both soulful and fun. A magnificent arrangement.

* “Parade of The Wooden Soldiers”. OK, listen to how the strings behind The Crystals’ rollicking performance absolutely shimmer like glistening snow, especially behind the trumpet solo in the middle. No one – and I mean NO ONE – could make Christmas pop music like Phil Spector. (If you doubt me, just listen to John & Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”) Again, Hal Blaine’s drum fills on the fade-out are pretty intense.

* “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”. Arguably the showpiece of the album. If you want a true holiday audio feast, come inside Mr. Spector’s kitchen where everything – including the kitchen sink – has been tossed in here. Shimmering strings and double acoustic bass (how does he get that sound?) create the necessary tension, then horns introduce a TOTALLY PUMPED and unleashed Darlene Love vocal that leaves nothing – and I do mean NOTHING – in the tank. The grand build-up to close the song is classic Spector: layers and layers of guitar, piano, strings, and percussion back the call-and-answer vocals between Love and the backup singers (a seventeen-year-old Cher‘s voice can be clearly heard) until the tension is finally released in a tidal wave of vocal calisthenics, soaring strings, drum fills, and piano arpeggios. Simply put, one of the great pop vocal performances of all time.

* “Here Comes Santa Claus” is anticlimactic following Love’s tour de force, but it’s to Bobby Sheen’s credit that his straight, if understated, reading becomes the showpiece on this song. The trumpet solo in the middle has a ringing, jazzy touch to it which compliments Sheen’s soulful vocal.

What truly makes A Christmas Gift For You such a remarkable achievement is the success Spector achieved in fusing together what was then a radical way of interpreting familiar holiday songs without, as he would write in the album’s liner notes, “losing for a second the feeling of Christmas and without destroying or invading the sensitivity and the beauty that surrounds all of the great Christmas music.” More than anything else, Spector respected the music he was trying to interpret as his own. In the end, this is what makes this work an enduring classic for the ages.Geez.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:32 | Comments (0)

Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ

…because the whole world wants to forget about 9/11 – at least until it happens again. Which it will.

I despise the TSA, and this is just one reason why. Believe me, I’ve traveled a lot over the past year, and it’s so bad. They’re nothing but a bunch of lazy, stupid fools who got their job because flipping hamburgers and calling out names for lattes are so beyond their skill set. Am I generalizing? Yes. But am I right? Absolutely.

…but this is what happens when you make anyone in any industry government employees. They’ll be more than happy to allow the burka-wearing terrorist go through out of political correctness, and when a plane goes down you know damned well what the libs will do – they’ll blame Trump.

We’ve become a nation of morons.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments (0)
December 16, 2018

It’s a mid-December weekend here in the Valley of the Sun. Christmas is just around the corner, but I’ve got all my shopping done with just a bit of wrapping and a trip to Walgreens for the twins’ stocking-stuffers left to do. In the meantime…

If I had a fireplace I’d be sure to get me one of these. I have a chimenea outside, but it’s really only for sticks and not for big logs.

…which reminds me of a really cool Robert Plant song of that name.

I dunno, this sounds like racism and xenophobia to me, but what do I know?

…because the libs blaming the Trump administration for the death of that seven-year old girl while in the custody of DHS seems to me, at best, disingenuous, and at worst, bullshit. No one forced the girl’s father to make such a trek. And it ought to be a lesson for all those folks who think “caravan” is more than just a Duke Ellington standard. It’s a dangerous trek, and I can’t imagine any loving father subjecting a young girl to such danger.

I guess it’s me who has things all screwed up, because, frankly, I don’t really find what Mika Brzezinski said about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offensive. Crass? To be sure. But if “butt boy” is a homophobic slur, count me guilty for having used it in reference to at least one Goodboy or another over the years. I’m not a fan by any means, but I don’t think Mika meant it that way, and she should have told all the LGBTQ snowflakes out there to grow up and shut up.

…she, of course, still has her job. Now if, say, FOX News’ Tucker Carlson had used the same phrase in describing some Democrat you know he’d have already been told to hit the bricks by now.

But what I do find offensive and repulsive is anything having to do with Ellen DeGeneres. She’s a fraud and a phony.

Here’s my theory about how to handle the social media mob (and for anyone else, for that matter): they come after you, you punch back twice as hard.

I can’t speak for rest of her canon, but when I hear Mariah Carey I think of Christmas, for this and for this. Can’t beat either of them, no suh, not even with a stick.

But this and this get my vote for Christmas songs I switch off as soon as they come on the radio. Everything Wham! ever did was just soooooo gay, and McCartney’s mind-numbing pap, well, I just can’t believe it came from a former Beatle.

It’s that time of year where Golf Channel plies us with a seemingly never-ending suite of golf movies. Not a big fan of “The Legend Of Bagger Vance”, but I’ll switch to it from time to time if only to watch Charlize Theron, who not only is drop-dead beautiful, but gets me talking with that Southern accent she employs for the rest of the night.

Reason #576 why the Valley of the Sun ain’t a bad place to live.

reason #577.

Everyone has their favorite Christmas movies. Me? Besides the Alistair Sim version of Scrooge (the original in B & W, of course) is the all-time best, but my own sentimental choices are “Merry Gentlemen”, the Christmas episode of the PBS series All Creatures Great and Small, and Henry Winkler’s An American Christmas Carol. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas without them.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:31 | Comment (1)

…as it should have been from the very beginning. But nothing has really changed: even the White House acknowledges that the Obamacare law remains in place pending appeal. Which, of course, it will be, likely destined for a final dust-up at the Supreme Court.

Still, it would appear that, one way or the other, the “Affordable Care Act” (which neither was affordable or had anything to do with the quality of care), as originally designed, is on its last legs. Hence, it will be up to Democrats to lead with a viable replacement solution in the next Congress – something the GOP never had the courage to do. So good luck with that, Democrats.

This commenter at The Conservative Treehouse has it about right, I think:

The ruling is sound. SCOTUS determined that odimwitcare was only legal IF it was a tax, and the tax reform bill prohibited the individual mandate as a tax. No tax, no odimwitcare, and that sends the last whisper of obo the clown’s ‘legacy’ slithering into the cesspool of oblivion…LOL

From a political perspective, this will force Congress to come together on a bipartisan healthcare bill next year or be replaced in 2020 by their angry constituents. Time for Congress to get the lead out and start working.

One thing that can be done in a bipartisan manner is to address the scam of ‘balance billing’ (known as ‘surprise billing’) by providing a hold harmless clause for patients that select in network facilities and offices from their plans and prohibiting service providers from charging out of network costs to patients for services rendered on issues they have no knowledge of or control over. This is already done for Medicaid patients, and it’s time to expand it to everyone.

A bill was started in Tennessee in 2018, a good bill that never received a vote. So I am working on it for 2019 in Tennessee. Time to take it nationally. There is no cost to taxpayers, creates transparency in billing, reduces the complexity of the billing process, and holds physicians, service providers, hospitals and insurance companies to the terms of the insurance policies sold to and paid for by the patients as long as they select in network offices and hospitals.

The Tennessee bill can be found here, and I think it’s a great start. Ultimately, the solution (at least on the surface) appears to be simple: encourage insurance plans that cross state lines and build bigger pools of healthier and younger people to pay for plans that cover truly catastrophic situations, encourage doctors and hospitals to post their costs so that folks are, in turn, encouraged to pay for routine visits and procedures out of their own pockets, thus eliminating the excessive costs charged by providers simply because they know the insurers will cover it and thereby reduce the overall cost of basic healthcare. That will, in turn, make room for insurers to cover folks with preexisting conditions and the elderly, whose healthcare costs skyrocket in the last years of their lives.

It would also be interesting to see the states serve as laboratories for controlling healthcare costs. In a country as large and diverse as the USA is, one-size-fits-all healthcare isn’t just impractical, it’s overly cost-prohibitive as well. Regardless of what geniuses like Steph Curry think, we’ve put a man on the moon; surely, we can come up with healthcare solutions that provide truly affordable healthcare to those who truly need it while reducing the federal government’s boot on everyone’s neck solely to line the pockets of, and protect the interests of dick-headed, bow-tied bum-kissing bureaucrats, politicians, and special-interest groups.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:15 | Comments (0)
December 13, 2018

Not sure if Tracey and I would ever take another Royal Caribbean cruise (we probably did a dozen or more in our earlier years) – there are too many families and too many kids for my taste, and the ships are just so damned big that you lose all sense of ibig blue, but if we were to, this is certainly good to know.

Even if Lindsay Buckingham hadn’t been fired by his Fleetwood Mac bandmates I really don’t think I would attend one of their concerts. Considering the turnover the band had with guitarists in their first ten years of existence, it’s hard to believe Buckingham has been in and out and around the FM dial (so to speak) for more than four decades. But I love his guitar work – next to Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and George Harrison he’s my favorite guitarist of all time.

Geez, if this doesn’t tell you everything that is wrong with our public schools, nothing does:

The National Education Association stands firmly with the millions of people in the United States, including our students and educators, who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive and/or intersex.

We are alarmed by recent news reports that indicate that the Administration is contemplating policy to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations. The NEA strongly opposes such damaging and dangerous policy efforts.

We oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive/non-conforming or who are intersex. NEA logo

We oppose any attempts to eliminate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.

We view any attempts to narrowly define gender as a deliberate attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ individuals and part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate or undo federal protections for LGBTQ people on the part of the current administration.

Transgender, gender non-binary, gender-expansive/non-conforming and intersex individuals are our students, our colleagues, our members and our families.

We call for equality in policy-making and equality under the law for transgender, gender non-binary, gender-expansive/non-conforming and intersex individuals.

Think this person is more than a little misguided? I wonder what she (or he, or it) self-identifies with. Heck, I’m old enough to remember when education was all about the three “Rs”…

Boy, you read stories like this and this, and the next two years with the Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives is really gonna be something. America, get ready to have your eyes O-P-E-N-E-D.

…if you want to see the Democrats’ plans for America all you have to do is see how the states they have run for decades are doing. It should scare the bejeezus out of everyone.

I’m listening to “The Nutcracker” on YouTube. Brings back fond memories of seeing the Boston Ballet’s annual presentation at the Wang Center. Tracey and I would be decked out in our finest evening wear and start our night with Italian food in the North End. Then, after heading over to the Wang Center, we’d grab a couple of champagnes and head up to the balcony and look down at all the pretty people decked out in their holiday finest and do our own version of the Joan & Melissa Rivers “red carpet” treatment. At intermission, rinse and repeat. Those were good times, magical times.

Speaking of Christmas, Shawn Colvin’s pitch-perfect, almost child-like voice is perfect for “Christmastime is Here”.

Just another example of political correctness being a killer:

The organization has been fending off lawsuits over alleged abuse, including one filed by four former scouts who called the club a “pedophile magnet” and alleged that they were molested by scoutmaster Waldron Ackerman between 1974 and 1976.

Just like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts’ lack of enforceable standards and accountability attracted the wrong element and for all the wrong reasons. Next thing you know, you got a public relations nightmare on your hands, the lawsuits start flying, and a once-great institution is destroyed by the rot they allowed to proliferate. It’s just another reminder that the institutions that will last are those who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they are and what they believe, and make their membership mean something.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:07 | Comments (0)
December 11, 2018

Found this gem near the end of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novel “The Green Ripper”:

“Not one of us ever grows up to be what he intended to be. Not one of us fulfills his own expectations. We are all our own children, in that sense. At some point, somewhere, we have to stop making demands.”

We are what we are. Trying to live up to the demands of others – family, friends, society, and, most especially, ourselves is pointless. All you can do is try and leave the little corner of your world a little better place at the end of the day than it was at the start. Certainly, no worse.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:11 | Comments (0)
December 10, 2018

It’s a dark, Monday morning in December, the days are getting damned short, and I’m feeling (to invoke a couple of classic Creedence Clearwater Revival deep tracks) gloomy and blue. It’s getting to the point where I despise having Yahoo! as my main page, because everything that appears there on a daily basis reminds me just how $%#@! up this country has become.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. I mean, I understand the lure of Vegas and casinos, but it seems to me there’s more than a tad of an inconsistency here between their self-interests and their vocation, isn’t there? I mean, not everyone is cut out for the religious life, and there’s no shame in realizing it’s not for you. But these two take the cake!

Our country’s schools are just cesspools of ignorance and insane political correctness. You read stories like this and this and can only wonder what else is going on out there flying under the radar. My “baby boomer” generation is the worst thing that ever happened to this country and its culture. Thanks to us we’re creating generations upon generations of snowflakey, girly-girl, self-absorbed morons.

…but, since this is what goes for classroom assignments these days, the answer is YES. Next question.

As you can tell, I’m feeling damned pessimistic. I’m just glad I’m not twenty years younger.

See, it’s reading stuff like this that makes me so pessimistic. It’s not because the most recent Heisman Trophy winner might have made some homophobic tweets when he was a teen, nor that what should have been a day of celebration and joy for him and his family has been forever tarnished by the fact he had to apologize for those tweets. It’s knowing that there are losers and seriously deranged get-a-lifers out there who took upon themselves the role of a self-appointed “truth squad” to look into all of Murray’s past tweets for something – anything – that might smack of what they consider to be homophobia.

Who does this shit? And, does someone actually pay them to do it?

…turns out the so-called “human being” is one Scott Gleeson from USA Today. He’s probably pretty proud of himself, and he should be: he’s obviously someone who hates himself and what he is so much that his sole purpose in life is to project that hatred onto others by snooping around the athletic world looking for stuff just like this:

Full disclosure, this editor did a search on Scott Gleeson’s handle and the word ‘gay’ on Twitter just for sh*ts and giggles and boy howdy, Gleeson spends a lot of time writing about gay athletes and of course, homophobia. So this and his resume beg the question, was Gleeson sitting on these tweets from Kyler waiting to ‘pounce’ with them if and when he won the Heisman?

Who DOES that?

You know what, don’t answer that.

Hey Scott – do yourself – and all of us – a favor: go back inside your hate-filed closet or under whatever rock you crawled out from under. You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being. I would love to see a group of your peers examine your life and everything you might have said, done, muttered, or tweeted over the years. My guess is they’ll find he’s nothing but a miserable, pathetic toadstool who ought to shamed into listening to Barbra Streisand records nonstop over servings of canned spinach until you cry uncle and promise to get yourself a real life.

You see, this is the problem with tightly-coupled social media like Facebook and Twitter (as opposed to, say, more loosely-coupled forms like blogs): however well-intentioned it might have been, its ultimate aim (and I’m talking to the egghead developers and dickhead executives at Facebook and Twitter here) has been turned into a weapon for enforcing politically-correct “groupthink” and someone’s idea of what proper speech is. There is a dark cloud of fascism hanging over this country, and Gleeson is just one of thousands of stormtroopers engaged to enforce that “groupthink” and destroy the lives of folks they find wanting.

…and I’ll say it right here and now: it all has to do with the very powerful gay and transgender lobbies whose mission is to destroy our freedom of speech, our religious institutions, and any other institution they can get their greasy, rainbow-colored paws on.

…let me be clear: I don’t care if you’re gay or LGBTQWXYZRBMSF etc. etc. etc., whatever. Your sexual orientation is your business. I might, or I might not, accept you based on the way you carry yourself and live your life. Last time I checked, that was my choice. But whatever you are or think you are, don’t try to impose it on me. keep it to yourself and out of my face, OK?

Seems to me the worst thing people can do is apologize for something they either tweeted or said years ago under pressure from the fascist mob. Comedian Kevin Hart learned this the hard way. He should have told all his critics to go screw.

…that being said, if you do feel the need to apologize for something you’ve said or done, do it completely and unequivocally. None of this, “I apologize if I offended anyone for something I said [did]” bullshit. If?? That’s nothing more than a conditional apology that actually demeans the feelings of others who you offended. Don’t do that. Just friggin’ apologize and leave it at that. Then move on.

Again, never apologize unless there’s a damned good reason to. We all make mistakes. But never give in to the mob. Never give in to the fascists.

Sigh. OK, maybe I’ll make myself a hot cup of mocha and go stare at some Christmas tree lights.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
December 8, 2018

It’s a dreary start to this early December weekend here in the Valley of the Sun. Not that surprising – you typically get days of clouds and high, shimmering clouds as storms coming out of the Pacific either drop a little rain on us or pass to our north. The Christmas tree is up and running in all of it’s 2018 glory, and Tam brought over the first presents that make it look like a Christmas tree rather than some phony airport or Vegas casino display. Me? I’ve got some errands and a bit of holiday shopping to do (not much), so let’s get to it!

When history looks back at the Robert Mueller “Russia collusion” investigation, this will be the week where it was revealed to be the sham and witch hunt it always was to begin with. The media hacks and liberal shills at CNN and MSNBC can be as breathless about the latest Michael Cohen “revelations”, but, as Richard Baris points out in this important tweet, not only did Barack Obama get busted for the same thing and no one cared, but what’s to stop anyone elected president that the so-called “Deep State” doesn’t approve of to be hounded and investigated for no real reason other than to constrain his ability to do the job he was elected to do?

…this is nothing but banana republic politics, folks, and the sad thing is, the hatred of Donald Trump by liberals – simply because their crappy candidate ran such a crappy campaign – runs so deep and is so irrational that they can’t see the danger to this country’s electoral processes. Our country’s core values and institutions are being eaten out from within by the worms and maggots of liberal/socialist identity politics, political correctness, and people who wield social media as a weapon to destroy the lives and reputations of others from their high horses and glass palaces.

…so liberals, if you want to blame the likes of Donald Trump for this, go ahead and delude yourselves, but the problem is actually revealed by you looking in the mirror and taking a good look at what and who you are.

Good on the Red Sox for resigning Nathan Eovaldi. Watching that guy pitch during the ALCS and World Series was thrilling – even better than watching Roy Hobbs blow away the Whammer in “The Natural”.

The biggest problem Democrats and liberals are going to have when they assume control of the House of Representatives in January is their utter inability to temper their own extremes and the angels of their lesser nature. They never learn. Ramming through Obamacare the way they did gave the GOP the wedge issue they needed to be returned to power in the House during Barack Obama’s presidency. Now, their hatred of Trump and thirst to investigate and impeach, and a progressive/socialist wing which only wants to give more free stuff out to more people (health care, student loans) and take things away from them (climate change) will be their undoing in 2020.

…see, the problem is a mainstream media which will fawn over everything the likes of Adam Schiff and Alexandra Ocasio-Ortiz mutter, and Nancy Pelosi will have no other choice but to listen to a base which is raving and drooling over the prospect of destroying, rather than working with, President Trump. Unfortunately, voters will (gasp!) expect the Democrats to govern in a responsible and dignified manner (there are, after all, ticking time bombs like the deficit, Medicare, and Social Security demanding at least honest evaluation and solutions). Unfortunately, with what goes for Democrats and our poisoned political culture these days, that’s just going to be impossible.

…because, after all, the media would rather focus itself on “Russia collusion” than news like this, which seems to me a much bigger deal, no?

It’s going to be a great Christmas for Beach Boys fans everywhere with two new releases: “Wake The World: The Friends Sessions”, and “I Can Hear Music: The 20/20 Sessions”. 1968 was a challenging time for the band: the so-called “Summer of Love” had pretty much swept the beaches clean of everything that was relevant musically prior to 1967 (much like the arrival of The Beatles had done just three years prior). As a result, The Beach Boys were suddenly old hat, passe, out of the musical mainstream. But that didn’t mean they stopped creating and generating unique and interesting (if not particularly successful) music.

…these two releases scrub the vaults of their musical output in 1968 much like last year’s ground-breaking “Sunshine Tomorrow” release did for their 1967 output. What it shows is a band searching for an identity at that time and making music purely for the love of it, guitarist Carl Wilson beginning to take on more of a leadership role, and drummer Dennis Wilson’s emergence as a fully-realized and creative artist in his own right – a significant development for the band in the succeeding years. One of the reasons I fell in love with The Beach Boys’ music to begin with back in 1974 was their post-surf music, and these releases only serve to reinforce that feeling. It may not be for everyone, surely, but for Beach Boys fans it is Christmas-come-early, and a must-have.

…which makes the prospect of a similar kind of release in 2019 that scrubs the vaults of The Beach Boys’ musical activity from 1969 so intriguing. The band by that time was readying its artistic and commercial comeback that would culminate in the classic (though unappreciated at the time) Sunflower, and 1971’s Surf’s Up releases, and there is some truly great stuff just waiting to see the light of day. Something to look forward to, fer shure. What a great time to be a Beach Boys fan!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:51 | Comments (0)
December 6, 2018

Target Handicap: 20.0 Handicap: 27.0 / Change: (0.0)
Location: Royal Links Golf Club
Score: 61 + 56 = 117

Location: Angel Park (Mountain)
Score: 54 + 57 = 111

Two days of golf in Las Vegas, two days of mixed results. There’s obviously still work to do, but there were some hopeful signs as well. After all, you play two courses with slope ratings over 130 and come out without a higher handicap, I think that’s about as good as I can expect at this stage, where I’m, like, for what it seems like the 3,067th time in my golf life, in between swings.

Let’s start with Sunday, a sunny, breezy, and chilly day. They call Royal Links the closest thing to true Scottish links golf there is without having to hop across the pond, and maybe that’s so – after all, there were real pot bunkers everywhere. But as with just about everything in Las Vegas with its Paris and New York, New York casinos and strip clubs full of chicks with fake boobs (not that I’ve ever been to one, that’s just what friends tell me :-)), it’s pretend Scottish golf masquerading as just another Vegas-style, high-desert course. Not that they don’t try: every hole is supposedly modeled after a classic British Open hole and with an accompanying story to tell, but without the sea and the people and the authentic landscape something still gets lost in the translation. Oh, the greens were fast and tricky, to be sure, and you had all those cool pot bunkers (cool as long as you didn’t find one!), but too many holes looked and played alike.

I really didn’t play well at all that day. I never got comfortable with my driver and sprayed the ball all over the place, and my iron play was surprisingly bad (chunking the ball over and over). But I put together enough decent shots and chipped and putted the ball well enough to play at least close to double-bogey golf. Down the stretch I finally found a bit of a groove and hit enough good iron shots to make my back nine somewhat presentable. And the match my Goodboys pal Killer and I played against The Funny Guy and Doggy Duval stayed tight right to the end. Between the chill, the wind, and the all the ball-hunting it felt like we were out there forever (we finished with barely enough daylight) but it was still a great time, and there was, of course, still a Las Vegas Sunday night waiting for us. Doubt we’d play the course again, but I’m glad we gave it a try.

Monday was a much better day for golf – sunny skies, light winds, just a bit of a chill in the air. Angel Park’s Mountain Course we’ve played several times so we knew what we were in for: tough pin placements, deceptively tricky holes (especially on the back), and a layout that demands good course management. Once again, I struggled with my chunky irons until mid-way through the back nine – between Sunday at Royal Links and through the first twelve holes I don’t remember ever chunking so many irons in my life. I felt like I was throwing away at least a stroke a hole, and what frustrated me the most is that I couldn’t feel what I was doing wrong.

But there was a lot of good that also happened out there: once again, I chipped and putted the ball as well as I have in a long time. And I drove the ball with as much confidence as I ever had – most especially down the stretch with four tough driving holes that close out the back. To know I have the ability to drive the ball like that will help me big-time down the line. And unlike on Sunday at Royal Links, I hit my 5-wood well on the par 5s when needed. But my hybrids let me down both days – something I thought I had worked out – and my course management left much to be desired (one of these days I’ll actually look at a golf card to check the layout around the green!). Like Sunday’s round, however, I found my irons around the 13th hole and made some real quality shots with my 5, 6, and 7-iron under pressure during Killer’s and my stirring comeback against TFG and DD. Which made the Mai Tais we celebrated with back at The Mirage taste all that much better!

What I take from these two rounds is the fact that I hung in there long enough on both occasions to see my game come around on the back nine. That may not sound like much to y’all, but the days of falling into a bad stretch and allowing it to color my entire round are over. I kept on fighting, kept on trying to follow my strategy of getting my club perpendicular and my arms more extended at impact. I sense (especially with my irons) that my swing might have got a little too upright (hence the chunking), and I do want to work on not having my shaft so angled at address as it was – I think that will improve my overall ball contact. But I’m excited at how well I chipped the ball and putted both days.

So now I get a few weeks off, and I’m glad for it. The clubs have worked hard, so they’ll get a good soak and cleaning this weekend. Besides the holidays, I have a procedure on my right hand scheduled for next week that will likely curtail golf activity for a good month or so. But I know what I want to work on, feel good about it, and hopefully will be ready to resume normal golf activity around Valentine’s Day. At this stage of my golf year, I’d like to be less than seven strokes from my goal of being a 20-handicap, but I know I have it in me, and I look forward to getting back to it in 2019.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 23:04 | Comments (0)
December 1, 2018

I’m spending this weekend with a few of my Goodboys pals in Sin City, but that doesn’t mean the blog doesn’t go on. A few thoughts and comments about what’s going on out there.

Rest in peace, Mr. President. I wonder if the mainstream media will cover President Bush’s death with the same fawning coverage as it did with John McCain. I’ll tell you this: George H.W. Bush was twice the man that petty, vicious “Maverick” was. But Bush didn’t play the kind of games with the media that ol’ Mav did; if there was one characteristic GHWB had that McCain didn’t have, it was sincerity.

If you’re a Democrat or raving, drooling Trump-hating liberal, all the good feelings about your supposed “blue wave (over-hyped by all those California House seats turning blue), this story from ought to be reason for pause. 54, 543 voters? Democrats will never have it better than they had it for the 2018 mid-terms – a GOP congress that virtually did nothing for two years, a wave of engaged voters wanting to get back at Republicans and the President for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, and – most importantly – no Democratic national candidate or Speaker for engaged GOP voters to come out against. And still, the best your party could do was run up vote totals in Massachusetts, California, and New York?

…sure, there’s a lot of work the GOP needs to do in the next couple of years to improve its appeal to millennial suburban voters, but at this point in time I have to think that, given my druthers, I’d rather be in Donald Trump’s place than any other Democrat’s he might run against.

…because when it comes to choosing between what liberals truly believe vs. what conservatives do, sunlight is going to be the best disinfectant. If Democrats want to spend the next two years pushing for huge tax hikes to combat climate change and push Russia “collusion” they do so at their own peril.

One has to wonder just how long CNN can go on embarrassing itself. But the fact is, they just don’t care anymore. To repeat a false story published by NPR without doing any kind of verification is to call any of them journalists is a joke. They are the epitome of “fake news”.

I’m beginning to question Arizona senator Jeff Flake’s mental stability. No one can be that stupid and not be afraid or ashamed to show the world just how nonsensical everything he does is. And folks wonder why his approval rating of 18% forced him not to seek reelection.

Honest to God, if this is what passes for intelligence in our nation’s schools…

How on earth did this action take so long. The woman should be in jail.

If I lived in California I’d be pretty nervous right now.

If (soon to be former) Speaker Paul Ryan had done his job the last two years instead of serving as a roadblock to President Trump’s agenda, he wouldn’t have anything to whine about. He can’t pull his stakes up fast enough for me.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 07:04 | Comments (0)


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