July 31, 2006

…to see whether the Red Sox will make a significant deal by the end of today’s baseball trading deadline, a couple of items worth noting in the so-called “Global War on Terror” from here and there.

* It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the civilian deaths supposedly caused by that Israeli air strike in Qana were in some way manufactured by Hezbollah. My guess is their story will completely fall apart in the next day or two. Of course, this will not stop these bloodthirsty sickos from using Lebanese civilians as human shields to stoke the propaganda wars, as this Lebanese blog shows. (Hat tip: NRO’s The Corner)

* Look for a meaningful Israeli ground excursion in the next day or two. My guess is the Israelis suspect they’re losing the propaganda war and that, if they’re going to carve out a Hezbollah-free zone in southern Lebanon for themselves, they better get to it quick. STRATFOR seems to agree (Hat tip: Wrethcard at The Belmont Club).

* Michelle Malkin thinks not enough attention has been paid to the so-called “mentally ill” Pakistani who went on a rampage at the Seattle Jewish Center last Friday. I guess the question becomes when is a crime considered, or not considered, “terrorism”. Personally, I think (and I have to fault the Bush Administration for this) we’re all too hung up on what is terrorism and what is not. Any criminal act of violence, whether planned or carried out, domestically or internationally, needs to be treated in the same fashion. When American interests are harmed, or in danger of being harmed, whether it’s by so-called terrorists or not, it needs to be prosecuted in the most effective way possible.

* I think former House Speaker New Gingrich is right on target when he says we are in the early stages of World War III. David Postman of the Seattle Times writes:

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly, and to the administration, about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week’s bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and “connect all the dots” for Americans.

He said the reluctance to put those pieces together and see one global conflict is hurting America’s interests. He said people, including some in the Bush Administration, who urge a restrained response from Israel are wrong “because they haven’t crossed the bridge of realizing this is a war.”

“This is World War III,” Gingrich said. And once that’s accepted, he said calls for restraint would fall away:

“Israel wouldn’t leave southern Lebanon as long as there was a single missile there. I would go in and clean them all out and I would announce that any Iranian airplane trying to bring missiles to re-supply them would be shot down. This idea that we have this one-sided war where the other team gets to plan how to kill us and we get to talk, is nuts.”

There is a public relations value, too. Gingrich said that public opinion can change “the minute you use the language” of World War III. The message then, he said, is “‘OK, if we’re in the third world war, which side do you think should win?”

It’s about time a leading American politician came out and said what Gingrich is saying. There are dots that need to be connected out there, and when ones does, it becomes clear that there indeed is a world-wide, undeclared war already being waged between radical Islam and the modern West. And, not surprisingly, we are starting to see new political alliances being forged for political and psychological gain – for example, the recent trade agreements forged between Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which will only help escalate tensions between East and West.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 12:54 | Comments (0)
July 30, 2006

Summer’s a great time for escaping the heat and losing one’s self in books and movies. The chaos out in the real world ain’t going away any time soon, right? So, it should come as no surprise that the lines between here and Amazon.com have been absolutely ablaze lately.

Books:

* Rome Sweet Rome by Scott and Kimberly Hahn was an interesting read, describing their spiritual journey from Presbyterianism to Roman Catholicism. More on this in the next few days, but I found the Hahn’s focus on “covenant” throughout the Old and New Testaments and how they came to see Roman Catholicism as the truest reflection of covenant and sacrament as it relates to Biblical truth powerful, challenging, and worthy of consideration.

* Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, by Peter Ames Carlin. While I’m only a third of a ways through it, it is, quite simply, the definitive work on the history of the Beach Boys as told through the life of their leader, Brian Wilson. If you’ve ever wondered why and how the Beach Boys and their music made such a mark on American pop culture, redefining “California” as not just a state but a state of mind both exhilarating and dark in its expression and scope, you simply cannot do better than Carlin’s magnificent work.

* SMiLE: The Story of Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece, by Domenic Priore. On deck reading-wise, I’m looking forward to reading Priore’s book if only because it contains in-depth interviews with Van Dyke Parks (Wilson’s collaborator on SMiLE) and Frank Holmes (who did the artwork that exemplified the whimsy in Wilson’s music and Parks’ lyrics).

* South Sea Tales, by Jack London. Reading material for our Hawaiian cruise coming up in late September.

* Feeding The Monster: How Money, Smarts and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, by Seth Mnookin. Everyone in Boston is talking about this look-see into the inner workings of the Boston Red Sox following the sale of the team from the Yawkey Trust to the Henry/Werner/Lucchino ownership group. Oughta be a good one – I’m looking forward to cracking this baby open.

Movies:

* The Endless Summer – Bruce Brown’s legendary 1966 travelogue following two surfers around the world. Beautifully photographed, both the digital picture and sound quality is excellent and a must-add to your collection if you own a big-screen TV.

* The Sting – One of my all-time favorite films, with Redford and Newman playing con-men out to get Robert Shaw. It’s still in the mail, so I’ll let you know how it does in digital form.

* All The President’s Men (Two-Disc Special Edition) – Because it’s my all-time favorite film, I was hoping the special edition would enhance the movie experience itself, and it doesn’t disappoint. Not only do you get a number of special features that discuss the making of the film and its influence (both good and bad) on today’s journalism, you also get a version with Robert Redford’s own commentary throughout. Fabulous!

Music:

* Covered by The Beach Boys – I’m picking up this CD only because it contains two songs previously only available on LP: 1967 covers of The Box Tops’ “The Letter” and The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”. For collection purposes only.

* Ride The Wild Surf: Complete Sandals 1964-1969 – The Sandals performed the music on Bruce Brown’s “The Endless Summer” (above) soundtrack and are often overlooked in the vast litany of surf groups the popularized the genre in early-60s California. I’ve always loved their music, though, and this collection will gladly replace the well-worn LP that has barely held up through numerous plays over the years.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:10 | Comments (2)
July 28, 2006

Since returning from Massachusetts it’s been one crazy week here. A little bit of fallout left over from last weekend’s Goodboys Invitational to help take care of here, a little bit of A/C and water problems in the house to take care of there. The weather’s been kind of crazy as well – not exactly sunny, but neither cloudy; not as oppressively hot as it was last week, but hardly fall either. The calendar says it’s the middle of summer, but hell, it’s been summer here for three months already, and with the Goodboys Invitational weekend over and the first of August bringing a return to school and heavy traffic around here, I’m not sure what summer really means anything anymore.

Driving into work this morning, I was contemplating how difficult it is to find one’s center when things seem so scattered or in transition. It was then the Eagles’ song “Learn To Be Still” (from their 1994 “Hell Freezes Over” CD) came on the radio, and, as I listened, I couldn’t help but see myself and my current mindset in the lyrics sung by Don Henley:

It’s just another day in paradise
As you stumble to your bed
You’d give anything to silence
Those voices ringing in your head
You thought you could find happiness
Just over that green hill
You thought you would be satisfied
But you never will learn to be still.

We are like sheep without a shepherd
We don’t know how to be alone
So we wander ’round this desert
And wind up following the wrong gods home
But the flock cries out for another
And they keep answering that bell
And one more starry-eyed messiah
Meets a violent farewell – learn to be still.

Now the flowers in your garden
They don’t smell so sweet
Maybe you’ve forgotten
The heaven lying at your feet

There are so many contradictions
In all these messages we send
(We keep asking) how do I get out of here?
Where do I fit in?
Though the world is torn and shaken
Even if your heart is breakin’
It’s waiting for you to awaken
And someday you will learn to be still.

The final words Henley repeats over the song’s fade is “keep on running”, and it seems that in “in between” times like this that’s the best one can do. All around me in this valley I share with some 4 million other residents, I see lifestyles being pursued and maintained, relationships being cultivated, communities and families being raised or disintegrating, political races being waged, and all sorts of plans – big and small – being made and dashed. I can’t help but wonder, however, what relevance in the grand scheme of things they all have when, far beyond these borders wars are being waged, humanitarian crises are being ignored, and lunatics in the Far East and in Iran are running the asylum.

Somewhere and somehow, it all means something, with some greater race being run to an unforeseen end. I remember a banner that hung on the wall of my church when I was growing up; it said, “Once in the stillness you will know”. I’m thinking that maybe whatever knowledge that might be is that gained in the very pursuit of that stillness. If so, I have a long pursuit ahead of me, indeed.

Keep on running.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:21 | Comments (0)
July 27, 2006

…in the worldwide Anglican Communion, that is, following the much-publicized goings-on at last month’s Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention. The speed in which long-established and respected order and protocols are disintegrating is something truly breathtaking to behold and truly historical in nature. For, in just a few short weeks, we have seen the following occur:

1) From both its choice of Katharine Jefferts Schori as its new Presiding Bishop and a “compromise” resolution agreed to on GC’s last day, TEC has made it clear that it was not just unwilling to back down on the 2003 consecration of non-celibate gay priest V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, but unwilling to formally commit to no further similar actions in that regard as well.

2) The leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, in a written reflection issued to bishops, clergy and Anglicans worldwide, laid out the idea of an “alternative arrangement” within the Communion where national churches could be divided into “associated” and “constituent” provinces in an attempt to prevent formal schism over the impasse that exists between “orthodox” and “progressive” churches over the issue of homosexuality…

[Williams] said that he favours a new system where churches in the 70 million-strong communion could opt to form a “covenant” where they made a formal commitment to each other. Those unwilling to join the covenant could choose to become “churches in association” which were still bound by historic links but did not share the same constitutional structures, he suggested.

Under the suggestions put forward by Dr Williams, the associated churches would have no direct part in the decision making of the constituent churches. The associated churches “might well” be observers whose views were sought or whose expertise was shared from time to time, and with whom “significant areas of co-operation might be possible”, he said.

3) …which was shortly thereafter strongly rejected by the Anglican Church of Nigeria who, with the support of two Australian bishops, called Dr. Williams’ proposal a “flawed solution to a complex problem”. While commending Dr. Williams for his attempt to prevent schism within the Communion, it also chided him for believing reconciliation was still possible:

“…his analysis of the situation is quite lucid, and the liberal and post-modern tilt of some interpretations is apparent. But we must commend the fact that it appears we have finally come to that point of admitting that we are truly at crossroads as a Communion and the time to decide on the way forward can no longer be wished away.

“The Archbishop says we “have tried to be a family of Churches willing to learn from each other across cultural divides, not assuming that European (or American or African) wisdom is what settles everything, opening up the lives of Christians here to the realities of Christian experience everywhere”. He then goes on to suggest that the genuine concerns expressed about orthodoxy and the need to contend for the faith once entrusted to the saints, have made the debate harder, and “reinforced the lines of division and led to enormous amounts of energy going into ‘political’ struggle (!) with and between churches in different parts of the world.” The idea that these genuine concerns have degenerated to the “politicization of a theological dispute” instead of “reasoned debate” is very sadly patronizing. One would have expected that those who had embarked on this religious misadventure would be encouraged to judge their actions against our well-established historic tradition.

“A cancerous lump in the body should be excised if it has defied every known cure. To attempt to condition the whole body to accommodate it will lead to the avoidable death of the patient.”

That, my friends, is very strong stuff.

4) In the U.S., seven Episcopal dioceses in rapid succession made formal requests to the Archbishop for alternative episcopal oversight (that is, jurisdiction under another Anglican province other than TEC). First came the Diocese of Fort Worth (TX) on 6/19, then Pittsburgh (PA), San Joaquin (CA), and South Carolina on 6/28, Central Florida on 6/29, and Springfield (IL) on 6/30. A week later, the Diosese of Albany (NY), while not formally requesting alternative oversight, nevertheless expressed its “solidarity and sympathy” with those dioceses that had made such requests.

5) On June 26, Christ Church in Plano, TX, one of the largest TEC congregations (averaging 2,200 parishioners each week), announced its decision to “disassociate itself” from TEC. A month later, the largest congregation in the Diocese of West Texas, Christ Church San Antonio, chose the same course of action. Where both parishes plan to go or associate themselves with has not yet been decided.

And this seems just the beginning, as whispers abound that there are others intending to follow. What does it mean for TEC? David Virtue wonders as well:

It would also seem that the new Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori has resigned herself to the inevitable. When she was asked by a reporter in an interview with the Oregonian about how far you can stretch (the Episcopal Church) she responded by saying: “We’re all human beings. We all have our limits. I don’t know what mine are.”

We will soon find out. For about 130,000 Episcopalians, in seven very viable dioceses, that answer has been delivered.

At a parish and personal level the most recent estimates indicate that as many as 6,000 active, dues paying Episcopalians have left The Episcopal Church since the end of General Convention, with one parish, Christ Church, Plano, in the Diocese of Dallas accounting for more than 60 percent of the total.

As has been written in this space before on any number of occasions, these developments should not come as a surprise to anyone – in fact, they have been in the works for some time; this year’s General Convention simply put into action what many had predicted since Robinson’s consecration and the issuing of the Windsor Report. What orthodox Episcopalians and their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Nigeria understand is that it is not just TEC, or even the Anglican Communion, that is at risk here, but the survival of traditional Christianity itself. Charlotte Allen has a fine op-ed piece from the L.A. Times (courtesy: Virtue Online) illustrating the corrosive impact of “liberal Christianity” on the mainline Protestant churches. For those who have grown up as mainline church Protestants like myself, it is a bitter pill to swallow, indeed:

When a church doesn’t take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches – Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like – accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it’s more like 12% (17 million out of 135 million). Some of the precipitous decline is due to lower birthrates among the generally blue-state mainliners, but it also is clear that millions of mainline adherents (and especially their children) have simply walked out of the pews never to return. According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, in 1965, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today. Compare that with 16 million members reported by the Southern Baptists.

When your religion says “whatever” on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it’s a short step to deciding that one of the things you don’t want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

The Anglican Communion finds itself in one fine mess, and, contrary to the hopes of those like Dr. Williams, Bishop Schori and others, who still believe reconciliation between the competing philosophies within the Communion regarding the authority of Scripture and Christianity’s historical teachings is possible, things are only going to get messier.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 14:44 | Comments (0)
July 26, 2006

Picking up the pieces after a long Goodboys Invitational week and day-long return trip back to Arizona:

July in New England means alternating periods of hot, sticky days and warm, muggy nights followed by bright, clear dry days once the obligatory thunderstorm(s) roll through. The Goodboys saw it all this weekend, and I for one enjoyed every minute of it. While playing golf in the rain is typically one of my least-favorite things to do in life, I had to admit this weekend provided a refreshing change, especially given the incredible spell of 110s we’d been having in Phoenix.

…Until last night, that is, when we experienced one of the most violent electrical storms I have ever seen. Two inches of rain in 45 minutes, incredible lightning crackling everywhere, and very heavy winds that did a nice job pruning our mesquite tree. May and Chris thought so too.

The day before, I had the coldest, freshest Sam Adams Boston Lager at Boston’s historic Green Dragon Tavern, courtesy of “Lugs” the bartender. I asked Lugs if that was his real name. “Nope”, he said, “it’s Ryan. Lugs is my nickname”. “Mine’s The Great White Shank, says I. “Great nickname!”, says Lugs, “but I like mine better”. “Why do they call you Lugs?”, I ask. “You don’t wanna know”, he says. Turns out the Green Dragon has quite a history dating back to Revolutionary War times, when the Brits used a spy stationed there to uncover Samuel Adams’ and Paul Revere’s plans to ride to Lexington and Concord and warn the colonists to arm and prepare for the Brits. Fortunately, the spy never worked for the New York Times and was discovered by the good guys and locked up in the tavern so he couldn’t reveal their plans. The Green Dragon Tavern – a nice old dark bar in which to take refuge on a hot summer’s afternoon.

I’m amused at the clarion calls by the world’s leaders for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah. Easy to call for the two combatants to put down their arms when everyone knows Hezbollah and its backers in Iran and Syria have no intention of allowing Israel to live in peace. I guarantee if Iran, the French, Germans, and/or Russians had missiles being fired at their cities they would retaliate in force just as Israel is. One of these days, the world’s leaders will come to understand what Iraq’s Prime Minister told a joint session of Congress today – that the only way to defeat violent, rogue terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah is to kill them and stamp out any remaining desire for violence against civilized nations.

The problems with Boston’s “Big Dig” are so widespread and complex that it will take millions (if not billions) of dollars to correct the many design flaws and shortcuts that took place during its construction. This time, however, be assured it will be the people of Massachusetts – not the federal government – who will be picking up the tab, as there’s no way the feds are gonna do anything to come to the Bay State’s rescue. The old adage, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” comes to mind.

My hope is that the Big Dig’s problems mean that the days of Massachusetts’ inherent “culture of corruption” are finally about to come to an end, as no one is going to be able to wink, blink, nod, or yawn their way out of this when all is said and done. Make no mistake about it: it will be the Massachusetts’ taxpayers who will take it up the you-know-what on this, and when its already overtaxed business owners and homeowners see the bill they’ll be footing for this, there’ll be the devil to pay. Already faced with a shrinking population and one of the highest costs of living in the nation, things there are about to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

Ron “Cubby” Myerow (third from left in the pic) is one of my favorite Goodboys, and a graphic designer to boot. If you have any needs in that regard, please check out his website. He’s also listed on the Goodboys Nation blogroll, so if you have any future needs you can find him there. Go Cub!

Filed in: Goodboys,Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 14:54 | Comments (2)
July 24, 2006

On capturing your fifth Goodboys Invitational, snaring victory on the 54th and final hole to take a one-shot victory over Killer, thus making you the winningest member in Goodboys Nation history. We celebrate your victory and recognize this momentous achievement wth a hoisted glass or two, hoping that as chair of the Executive Committee (Exec-Comm) you will rule the Nation with compassion and omnipotence for the next year.

Also recognized for a less-than illustrious achievement (i.e., finishing last in the field of eight) is Cubby, who upon accepting the title of fellow Exec-Comm member, subsequently stepped aside and designed The Great White Shank to assume his as role as Exec-Comm member pro forma – a role accepted by TGWS with all humility and reverence deemed appropriate for the occasion.

For those interested, here are today’s final results, showing how well each golfer did against his allotted Goodboys score and where three full days of tournament play left him in respect to the rest of the field of eight:

1. El Dandito: even on the day (-13)
2. Killer -+2 on the day (-12)
3. Goose +4 on the day (+1)
4. Doggy Duval: +6 on the day (+5)
5. The Great White Shank: +1 on the day (+6)
6. The Funny Guy: -2 on the day (+9)
7. Kernel Klink: -3 on the day (+10)
8. Cubby: +11 on the day (+33)

Well, as you can see, The Great White Shank had himself a pretty good tournament; although he didn’t do well enough to enter the top group of four, being fifth out of 8th place sure makes up for a lot of sins. golf-wise. It was a great tournament, nevertheless, and kudos go out to The Funny Guy and El Dandito, who put in a lot of creative effort following the chicken-$hit departure of last year’s champs Rambro and Duece. Special thanks go out to The Funny Guy for the boat rides this weekend – for this desert-dweller, it was just the tonic needed to enjoy the height of a New England summer.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:05 | Comments (0)
July 23, 2006

In golf lingo, they call it “moving day” – the next-to-last round of the tournament where all the golfers who started off kinda slow do their best to move up the leaderboard to get within striking distance of the top. The theory behind this is, if you can get close enough, perhaps you’ll either catch lightning in a bottle and lap the field, or the players above you will falter, giving you a shot at the top.

Today was moving day at the Goodboys Invitational Golf Tournament, and it was played in very murky conditions, indeed. Not only were the golfers hampered by a light to moderate rain that fell throughout, but the round had to be terminated after 16 holes due to a deluge that sent golfers from all across the course scampering to the tiny restaurant/bar where they waited like drowned rats for a resumption of play that never came. Fortunately for the Goodboys, our starting time was early enough so that we were able to get a majority of play in.

For those interested, here are today’s results heading into tomorrow’s final round, showing how well each golfer did against his allotted Goodboys score and where two days of tournament play have left each in the field of eight:

1. Killer -9 on the day (-14)
2. El Dandito: -4 on the day (-13)
3. Goose: -1 on the day (-1)
4. Doggy Duval: +5 on the day 95 (+1)
5. The Great White Shank: -4 on the day (+5)
6. The Funny Guy: +6 on the day (+11)
7. Kernel Klink: +7 on the day (+13)
8. Cubby: +10 on the day (+22)

Well, as you can see, The Great White Shank had himself a pretty good day (moving up two positions on the leaderboard), being one of only four golfers to actually beat his own allotted Goodboys score (which is, BTW, 106). So, while he’s still a good distance away from the leaders, another performance like today would get him to even, which, given the quality of golfers in the top two slots, is about all one can reasonably ask.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comment (1)
July 22, 2006

Very hot and extremely muggy today in Westford, Massachusetts. There were thunderstorms rumbling south of us but we played mostly in hot and hazy sunshine. For those who are interested, here are the results following first round play (parenthesis indicates score against designated strokes allotment):

1. El Dandito: 81 (-9)
2. Killer: 78 (-5)
3. Doggy Duval: 95 (-4)
4. Goose 93 (Even)
5. The Funny Guy: 97 (+5)
6. Kernel Klink: 105 (+6)
7. The Great White Shank: 115 (+9)
8. Cubby: 118 (+12)

Why such a poor score for The Great White Shank, you ask? Basically, a combination of an erratic tee game and some poor course management. Tomorrow is moving day at The Overlook G.C. in Hollis, NH, however, and my feeling is you’ll see The Great White Shank begin to creep his way up the leaderboard. If not, that’s OK – the beer is cold, there’s been a lot of yuks, and everyone is having a good time, which, in the end, is all that counts.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:57 | Comments (0)
July 21, 2006

The 16th annual Goodboys Invitational Golf Tournament starts later today at Butter Brook G.C in Carlisle, MA, with the remaining rounds being played tomorrow at The Overlook G.C. in Hollis, NH and at Green Meadow G.C. “Jungle Course” in Hudson, NH on Sunday.

Unlike previous years, when teams were selected and the focus was on “partnering” your way to real success, this year’s event will focus on individual play. This puts those Goodboys occasionally (or regularly) subjected to inexactitude when it comes to aim and distance in their golf games in a very dicey way, indeed. This year, when things go wrong, you can’t blame your partner or his game, it’s look in the mirror time, dude. So, while tropical storm Beryl slides right over where the Goodboys would typically play but are not this year (showing their uncanny ability to read the tea leaves and the weather gods), each Goodboy will be asleep in their bed knowing that success or failure this weekend rides on them and only them.

Here’s how this not-so-unbiased observer sees the event playing out; it also gives everyone out there a chance to, in a sort of distanced fashion, meet the Goodboys themselves:

EL DANDITO
Years on Tour: 12 (1994-present)
Prior Aliases: Dandy
Championships: 4 (1994, 1997, 2000, 2002)

It is generally recognized that in the world of golf there are two kinds of players: technical players, who approach every aspect of the game scientifically and deliberately (Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods come to mind), and feel players, who approach the game from a more physical and emotional angle, like John Daly and Greg Norman. There’s no right way or wrong way here – the only goal is to do whatever-it-takes to put that itty-bitty little white ball in a slightly-larger hole, and take as few strokes as possible to do it. I say this only because with El Dandito, we’re talking about a techie golfer to the nth degree: every thought, shot, and motion is carefully calculated, every address and set-up regimented, to achieve only the maximum results. My guess is that, playing without the limitations of partners who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with a hooded 4-iron, he will both exploit and excel in this kind of individual format.
PREDICTION: 1st Place

GOOSE
Years on Tour: 8 (1998-present)
Prior Aliases: High Wire
Championships: 0

Goose is one of the nicest gents you’ll ever meet in Goodboys Nation. Dude garnered his current nickname when one of his drives once nicked a lounging Canada Goose at a charity event. (Good thing, too – his original “High Wire” nickname was pretty lame, if I do say so myself.) When Goose struggles, it’s usually off the tee, as his iron play and short game are rock-solid dependable. Given that Goose has the longest tenure of any player in this year’s event never to have won a Goodboys Invitational, he’s most people’s sentimental choice. Unfortunately, I think El Dandito will play the role of spoiler.
PREDICTION: 2nd Place

KILLER
Years on Tour: 13 (1991-1993, 1995-2000, 2002-present)
Prior Aliases: None
Championships: 2 (1995, 2003)

Nicknamed for famed wrestler “Killer” Kowalski, he’s the #1 handicapped golfer in this year’s event (he’s like a 10 handicap, I think). Simply put, no can beat Killer’s game, as he has all the tools. (In fact, I would say the most dependable thing about Killer as a person is his golf game, but that’s another matter, entirely.) Can dude win the Goodboys Invitational? Definitely. Does dude want to win (and therefore take on all the responsibilities that come with winning, like having to plan and coordinate next year’s tournament)? That’s a whole ‘nuther question entirely. I think it was Killer who was once quoted as saying, “if you have a 18-inch putt on the 18th hole on the last day to win this tournament, there’s a whole lotta clubs in your bag you oughta think about using instead.”
PREDICTION: 3rd Place

CUBBY
Years on Tour: 12 (1993-present)
Prior Aliases: None
Championships: 1 (2003)

Cubby is perhaps the most unassuming of all the Goodboys. It seems no matter what the state of his game is – which on any given day can run the gamut from awful to atrocious – he’s always smiling. Even when he’s looking for his ball (which, admittedly, is most of the time), he’s smiling. And why not? He loves being a Goodboy, and for the rest of Goodboys Nation, the feeling is mutual. Legend has it he picked up his nickname as a result of a childhood resemblance to the equally-legendary Mickey Mouse Club member. While Cubby is getting alot of strokes in comparison to the rest of the field, without a partner to pick him up by playing lights out and lending stability to the cause, all by himself I gotta think he’s a long-shot at best.
PREDICTION: 4th Place

DOGGY DUVAL
Years on Tour: 13 (1991-1993, 1995, 1997-present)
Prior Aliases: Hit Dog
Championships: 3 (1992, 1995, 1997)

Trying out his new nickname in formal competition for the first time – he got it from his steady play on the same weekend David Duval was making his comeback to excellent play at this year’s U.S. Open – it’s a lock that Doogy won’t let something so mundane shake his golf game. While there is nothing about the Dog’s game anyone could consider outstanding, he is freakin’ steady to the point of dulling his competitors into submission. How he handles the pressure of playing all by his lonesome this year is anyone’s guess, but here’s thinking that unless he catches some kind of wonderful, he’s destined for the middle of the pack.
PREDICTION: 5th Place

KERNEL KLINK (a.k.a. “The Kernel”, “The Inebriator”)
Years on Tour: 2.5 (1991, 2003, 2004**)
Prior Aliases: “Lou Gorman”
Championships: 0

Everyone’s still trying to figure how the Kernel got his original nickname of Lou Gorman, then-GM of the Boston Red Sox. After all, his first name isn’t Lou, and his last isn’t Gorman, either. Just one of the mysteries of life, like how many Botox treatments House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi needs to keep up appearances. (OK, that was a low blow – sorry, Nanc!) At any rate, the Kernel is not a great golfer, but, like Doggy Duval, he is one of those who are always around the fairway and greens enough to stay in contention. Personally, I love the guy – I just don’t think he’s got enough game to make the top tier. (But that’s OK, neither do I.)
PREDICTION: 6th Place

THE GREAT WHITE SHANK
Years on Tour: 15 (1991-present)
Prior Aliases: “Rocket”, “Dysfunctional”, “Doug E Doug”
Championships: 4 (1991, 1993, 1996, 2000)

The Great White Shank (or, “TGWS”) is, along with Killer and The Funny Guy, one of the “Founding Fathers” of Goodboys Nation. With The Funny Guy, the only other Goodboy to have attended all fifteen previous Goodboys Invitationals. Has an amazing ability to work the ball from left to left – hence the nickname. As firey and opinionated on the course as he is off, TGWS will need to keep his tee game and emotions in check if he hopes to get even close to the top tier. He’s also breaking in a new swing, which is never a good idea when the pressure to win is on. Like Cubby, not having a good golfer to partner with (you didn’t think he won all those championships by himself, did you?) is likely to eat him alive.
PREDICTION: 7th Place

THE FUNNY GUY
Years on Tour: 15 (1991-present)
Prior Aliases: “Hogan”, “Snake”, “Velcro”
Championships: 3 (1991, 1993, 1999)

The Funny Guy – nicknamed for his God-given ability to: a) flirt with pretty girls, and b) identify the absolute best way of getting under the skin of his fellow competitors, be it with with incessant chatter, cynical observations, or other distracting techniques – is, to be frank, the oil that drives the Goodboys Nation engine. Like The Great White Shank, he too has never missed an event in its previous fifteen years. Once one of the better golfers in the Nation, the demands of corporate life and the $31 million budget he oversees now prevents him from attending to his golf game as much as he’d like. Now more at home in a dark Las Vegas bar filled with pretty girls than on the golf course, he still has remnants of a once-solid game, but definitely not enough to tangle with the big fellas. Personally, I’d love to see him take the prize, but seeing his putting game of late, I’m picking TFG to finish dead last.
PREDICTION: 8th Place

If my predictions are proven correct (i.e., El Dandito finishing first and The Funny Guy finishing last), it would mean that both will have to tolerate each other’s grandiose dreams and human limitations over the next year, since their finishing positions mean that they would have total control over everything associated with the planning and coordination of next year’s tournament. Lucky them! Will it happen? Stay tuned.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comment (1)
July 20, 2006

Had a conversation with the shuttle driver taking me to the airport the other day. A native of Connecticut, he, like me, had been living in Arizona for the past few years, and as soon as he found out I was from the East Coast, he basically started into his view about the cultural differences between the East and the West. I told him I thought geography was the primary factor, his view was that it was demographics. He talked about “ocean people” and “desert people” as one way to think about “Easterners” and “Westerners”: “in the West, people see the ocean as solely a means for recreation, back East they talk about shipwrecks. Out West, people see the desert as an expression of freedom, Easterners wonder what the hell they did with all the trees and start planting ‘em everywhere they can.”

In his view, because Arizona, Washington, Colorado, etc. have such a close proximity to California, the culture in these states is infected (his word) with the need to be new, be different, and, above all, be an individual. Contrast that with back East, where there’s much more a sense of, and respect for, the old – after all, that part of the U.S. is older – and hence, the value of traditions, family, community. Because of this, he reasoned, there’s much more attention paid to communal concerns and less emphasis on individuality – that dreaded “do your own thing”.

“If that were the case”, I asked him, “if individuality is so important, how do you explain the fact that so many people out here share the same kind of mind-numbing subdivision life where everyone’s homes look alike, and the three concrete walls that surround you mean you only see your neighbor twice a day if at all – maybe in the mornings and evenings when their cars appear or disappear behind the opening or closing garage doors. That, by the way, all look the same?”

He thought for a second. “Because they’re idiots.”

I suggested that maybe the weather has something to do with it as well; because the weather is usually – if not always – good, there’s a tendency to embrace a sun culture that subconsciously rejects any suggestion that life is actually going on within you and without you, and the idea that – gasp! – one really doesn’t have any control over their lives.

By that time, I was at the airport terminal and we said our goodbyes.

But it got me thinking: here in the East, the annual course and change of the seasons provide a reminder of not only the passage of time, but how much people depend on each other as well. I think about having to share raking duties whenever large oak and maple trees cover multiple yards with fallen leaves, or the snowstorms that force everyone outside to help their neighbors shovel out cars, or clean driveways, or run errands for the elderly. The lack of walled-in communities mean most homeowners are forced to share common ground and recognize and interact with neighbors (whether you like it or not) on a regular basis. Again, the work of geography and demographics drawing people together, not establishing distance, as out West.

Of course, some people (like my wife Tracey) like the distance, the lack of community, and the ability to be left alone to do their own thing and not be impacted by the demands of community and family. Some like the empty desert stretching out their back door, the doors and windows closed, the central air making perfect temperatures inside regardless of season or temperature. I’ve tried it, am glad I’ve tried it, but find myself a fish out of water in the West. Maybe it’s just that I’m a New Englander and an Eastern Time Zoner needing the change of seasons, the sense of community, the annual renewal of rites and traditions based on teachings, practices, and values passed down from one generation to another.

I guess that’s why this week’s annual rite of male bonding known as the Goodboys Invitational is something I cherish and look forward to each year. Whether the golf is good or not, the chance to touch base with friends, share memories of Goodboys past, and kick back a few beers on a New England summer weekend brings me back in touch with a part of me that finds no solace in the mind-numbing succession of hot sunny days, crawling snake traffic, and cookie-cutter subdivisions whose only difference is the size of property and the average income.

Contemplating East and West; to each his own!

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:15 | Comments (3)

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