November 30, 2006

Today I’m heading East on business to that lovely vacation spot known as Newark, New Jersey, followed by a quick weekend jaunt to visit the family and a few Goodboys up in Massachusetts. With the temps here in Phoenix today not even getting to 60 (with the 25-mph wind, I actually saw people walking around in coats, if you can believe it!), and expected to drop into the mid-20s tonight, with freeze warnings, I gotta find some warm weather somewhere, right?

Late last week, it looked as if I’d be spending the weekend in Newark due to a huge snowstorm that was supposed to be barreling its way up the Eastern seaboard tomorrow, but thanks to a couple of great weather blogs, it’s been very reassuring to follow the changes in the forecasts that have taken place as my date of departure got closer. I recommend both of them to you: Storm Track (this particular post features one of the most awe-inspiring photos you’ll ever see!), and AccuWeather.com. If you do a lot of traveling, or just have an upcoming vacation planned, you can’t beat either of them.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments (0)
November 29, 2006

The talk radio was getting on my nerves almost as much as the lunatic drivers trying to weave their way through the return home, drive-time snail-trail. I thought about running in silent mode, but this commute was going to be a long one, and something that wouldn’t be too distracting to the senses seemed to be in order. Looking through the music I had stashed in my car for just such an occasion, I was surprised to find the collection of Gregorian chant and praise music I had made back when we lived in Massachusetts, during the period I was going through the discernment process for the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

One of the things I love so much about music is its transcendent quality – how a tune, or even part of a tune, can bring you back to a particular moment in time so quickly and intimately that one can recall feelings, people, and senses long since filed away in the subconcious and have them come back almost as strongly as they were at that time. And the feelings were strong as the soft music, and the range of emotions they inspired, washed over me.

What was really amazing is how long ago and how foreign it all seemed – as if it was someone else, not me, who all those memories and emotions recalled. I remember making the tape almost ten years ago, and with each piece of music came a different memory – traveling to and from the retreats I would make to Holy Cross Monastery and SSJE in Cambridge, or the weekly sessions with Don and Eunice Schatz at Life/Work Direction in Jamaica Plain (the first people to affirm my calling), or trips to Boston and the Cowley & Cathedral bookstore to pick up another Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen book, or the meetings I would have with the various priests and parishioners who helped me discern and focus my calling for the better part of three years.

After our move to Louisville, and during yet another unsuccessful three-year discernment period in the Diocese of Kentucky, I would play the music during the hour-long drives between Louisville and Elizabethtown, where my church was, and where my discernment meetings would take place, and trips between Louisville Presbyterian Seminary (where I attended classes part-time) and my job at UPS.

What I remember most about the music is how it served as a kind-of sanctuary from all the stresses and strains any person who has ever offered themselves up to the Church (mine was the Episcopal, I doubt other denominations are any different) to have their calls to ordained ministry of one kind or another discerned. And as I listened to the music being played, it felt strange to feel so detached from something that was once such an integral part of my life. For it was all still there: all the various obligations and hurdles I had to engage (and at times, endure), all the emotional and spiritual exercises – internally and externally – that became such a part of my daily existence; that strange combination of joy, humility, and terror I remember feeling at learning my calling had been affirmed by those charged with that task; the kind of anguish that only comes when one’s calling is rejected by your diocese and bishop – all of it, still there in my heart and in my head, but now so foreign as to make me wonder if it was, in fact, me who did all that, or someone else who had just borrowed me for that stretch of nearly eight years’ time.

The tape ended just as the traffic finally broke free, and I was once more in the present day – just another commuter heading home from work in the Valley of the Sun. In the quiet of the car, the thought occurred to me: as much as the life I’m currently living seems light years away from those spritually-intense days in Massachusetts and Kentucky, they’re also life years away as well. And there’s satisfaction in knowing that, not only have I survived, but in time have learned to come to terms with it all. For whether in the end I’ll be able to look back and say those years were worth the effort or not, they were nevertheless lived, and to their fullest. And even though I don’t feel like the same person I was back then, it’s somehow comforting to know that that person, and his memories of a time never to be experienced again, can still be found in the music on a cassette tape, played one warm November afternoon heading home from work.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (0)
November 28, 2006

Whenever my friends and I get into a discussion or friendly debate over the merits (or lack thereof) of gay marriage, the arguments they put forth in favor are always pretty much the same:

* Half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, so what’s the big difference?
* Why get hung up on sexual orientation? Better to have a child grow up in a loving same-sex household than a unhappy heterosexual union or one with only one parent;
* As long as its between consenting adults, what right does the government have to tell people how they should live?

And somewhere in the discussion, I’ll usually come back at them and say, OK, let’s say we allow any two people to marry or enter into a legal union, why stop there? Would you allow three or four people to do the same? At which point, they’ll usually fall back on the argument about unions of two people max being ideal, or better than one, or something along those lines, but to me that’s intellectually disingenuous.

The fact is, once you open the gates to “marriage” or “civil unions” between same-sex couples, it’s a very slippery slope to every out-there activist organization pushing their own bizarre agendas and employing the ACLU to sue for changing the law in their favor. After all, in a free and open society, why not three-person marriages or unions? Or four? Or ten? Or should there be a limit, and if so, why? How about unions with cars or trees? Or unions with animals? (My wife would like that – then she could leave most of her money to her rabbits instead of me! Just kidding, of course, but you get my drift…)

Don’t believe me? streiff at Red State notes that last week, no less than the esteemed Washington Post ran on concurrent days stories sympathetic to non-traditional relationships involving people seeking to hop onto the same-sex marriage argument that gay, lesbian, and transgender activists have been pushing without success over the last few electoral cycles as a way to further their own agendas. He writes:

For those who have ridiculed us traditionalists whenever we raise the usually disreputable “slippery slope” argument in the defense of marriage as understood by most cultures over several millennia these articles should serve as evidence that we are not exaggerating. When viewed through the mawkishly distorted prism of the arguments proffered by proponents of homosexual marriage their particular cases are compelling and if we accept the idea of marriage as some amorphous “human right” they are irrefutable.

My guess is that it’s just the Post’s way of firing its first salvo at soon-to-be-former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon who is keen to enter the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes, but you never know how these things can all of a sudden take off and become such a hot topic in the mainstream dino-media and the cable news channels that the idea actually begins to gain legitimacy.

To me it’s all ridiculous, and just another way the Progressive Left is trying to tear down anything that smacks of the basic fabric that holds this country and society together. Watch them try and turn gay marriage, and then polygamy, into a “civil rights” issue, invoking the ghost of Rosa Parks to try and put their pathetic warped agenda across. What they really want is Rome, and hopefully, more and more states will follow the dozen-plus states who have passed constitutional amendments limiting marriage to that between one man and one woman.

For this country to do anything less is to court both societal and legal chaos and disaster.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (2)
November 27, 2006

How do I know? No, it’s not the foot-and-a-half dumping Vancouver is getting today, or not even the dusting they got in Central Florida last week. Nope, it’s the sad realization that, for the first time this year, we had to turn on the heat this morning after the temperature plummeted to 48 last night. We’re only going to get up to about 72 today.

Get out the woolies!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:00 | Comments (0)

I’ve been meaning to complete this post for the past two weeks, ever since I read the sermon delivered by the newly-elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (TEC), Katharine Jefferts Schori, at her November 4 investiture at Washington’s National Cathedral. The reason it has taken me so long to put this up is because I usually post what I feel most passionately about first, and put off completing posts I’m less interested in until I get to a point where I figure there’s nothing left to say. So, here it is.

I suppose that in itself says a lot about my feelings about TEC, its new PB, and the sermon she kicked off her tenure with. First off, I do feel it struck a number of right chords both thematically and theologically with its emphasis on personal ministry – feeding, healing, comforting, welcoming, etc. those in our midst and the world we live in – as our own personal expression of “shalom” and “fulfilling the scripture”, as Jesus’ proclamation in the Temple (Luke 4:16-21) attests to …

There’s a wonderful Hebrew word for that vision and work – shalom. It doesn’t just mean the sort of peace that comes when we’re no longer at war. It’s that rich and multihued vision of a world where no one goes hungry because everyone is invited to a seat at the groaning board, it’s a vision of a world where no one is sick or in prison because all sorts of disease have been healed, it’s a vision of a world where every human being has the capacity to use every good gift that God has given, it is a vision of a world where no one enjoys abundance at the expense of another, it’s a vision of a world where all enjoy Sabbath rest in the conscious presence of God. Shalom means that all human beings live together as siblings, at peace with one another and with God, and in right relationship with all of the rest of creation. …To say “shalom” is to know our own place and to invite and affirm the place of all of the rest of creation, once more at home in God.

..And while she invokes the concept of “shalom” to convey this vision of peace and abundance for all, she could have just as easily invoked the Christian baptismal covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself”, and, to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” (p. 305, The Book of Common Prayer). No matter, her language still underscores our calling as Christians to transform the world around us by exemplifying the One we call the Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. The PB’s words also provide a healthy reminder to Episcopalians (and non-Epicopalians) of the Hebrew tradition Christianity evolved out of – something I’m glad to see from the person called and elected to lead our little corner of the Christian faith.

That being said, there’s really nothing here to feel passionate about, nothing any different than you might hear from the pupit of your local parish on any given Sunday. Beyond that, she personally lost me when she reverted to “Episco-speak” by bringing up the Church’s “Millennium Development Goals” initiative – a 3-year program seeking to achieve “global reconciliation” (whatever that means) and relieve global poverty approved at this year’s General Convention (my boldings):

This church has said that our larger vision will be framed and shaped in the coming years by the vision of shalom embedded in the Millennium Development Goals – a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, the young educated, women and men treated equally, and where all have access to clean water and adequate sanitation, basic health care, and the promise of development that does not endanger the rest of creation. That vision of abundant life is achievable in our own day, but only with the passionate commitment of each and every one of us. It is God’s vision of homecoming for all humanity.

The ability of any of us to enjoy shalom depends on the health of our neighbors.

Uh huh. Putting aside for a moment the laudable goals of the MDG initiative (goals which, BTW, are not only vague, but unquantifiable, thereby rendering them irrelevant as achievable organizational goals – something any institution worth its salt would understand and never agree to were it success-oriented), I can’t help but wonder if the PB’s passion for “the health of our neighbors” extends to the health of the very institution and its 2.2 million members she has been called upon to lead. And I’m not alone.

When Titus Online, an orthodox blog I occasion from time to time, posted the PB’s speech, I wasn’t surprised at the visceral negative reaction by most who chose to comment afterwards. What did surprise me, however, was how one commenter, “Maryland Brian”, seemed able to articulate in his own way my exact thoughts when he wrote:

This is actually pretty funny if you let yourself see the humor in it. All the wonderful talk about bring[ing] peace to the world … from a denomination that’s disappearing at an alarming rate, that’s [w]racked with internal strife, and may well be shown the door by the anglican communion or, if not shown the door, the bulk of the orthodox anglicans in the world will walk out anyway. Who is she kidding? What’s a larger vision from a statisticially insignificant “club?” Ho ho ho … ha ha ha … the irony is astounding.

All in the name of peace and through effort[s] to empower the goals of a corrupt, ineffective international organization. This is just priceless stuff.

You know, ever since I’d first read the PB’s sermon, I couldn’t figure out why, even though I appreciated both its prose and overall message, there was something about it that bothered me. And it wasn’t until I read “MB’s” comment that I finally figured it out: what bothered me was not its vision, nor even its absurd idea that humankind, taking its lead from the Episcopal Church, could, on its own, before God’s time, make such a vision reality by embracing the concept of “shalom” (or, my preference, “aloha”, which derives from it). Rather, it was the sheer arrogance and the audacity that lie unstated behind her words:

* The arrogance that the Church she represents is so high-minded, so principled, so prosperous, and so united behind this vision that it doesn’t have time for such trivial annoyances as the fact that every week across the U.S. comes news of yet another parish or two leaving their dioceses, or a diocese suing one of its parishes or facing financial trouble, or a bishop deposing yet another orthodox priest, or another diocese either requesting alternative episcopal oversight or threatening to leave the Church entirely.

* The audacity to think that a tiny Protestant denomination, once the proud manifestation of Anglicanism in the U.S. and one that claims no less than eleven former U.S. presidents in its past, a denomination now hemorrhaging membership like a sieve and virtually coming apart at the seams following the consecration of an openly-gay, non-celibate bishop (the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire) two years ago, in real danger of being reduced to “crazy aunt” status in the worldwide Anglican Communion, thinks it can speak from a position of authority on what “shalom”, “reconciliation” and “abundant life” would mean for the world.

——————-

While it is true we Episcopalians have spent far too much time focusing on the significant issues that divide the “progressives” and “orthodox” in our midst, and too little actively striving to bring about, in our own way, the Luke passage Jefferts Schori bases her sermon upon, one has to be careful about crossing the line between vision and rhetoric, and parody. And, in this regard, the PB falls victim to the “purple arrogance” of her position in her audacity to think that a Church so dysfunctional and fractured will simply suck it up and go marching forward to cloak the world in a spirit of “shalom”, inspired by her message and lofty rhetoric.

…Or maybe she doesn’t. Maybe it’s her own private view that the train is leaving the station bound for that glorious, MDG-driven destination with those who share her vision of diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance, and for those who don’t, well, they’ll just have to find their own train. And maybe it’s her own private view that in this “homecoming for all humanity”, the only prodigal sons to be welcomed home to feast on the fatted calf are those who share her progressive view of the human condition, and the new traditions and teachings her Church is striving towards.

If that’s the case, well, so be it, and maybe it’s better that way. Perhaps the PB shares my view that the toothpaste has long since squirted out of the tube, so to speak, and there’s no putting it back in again. Perhaps she agrees that all the hard feelings, conflicts, and dissent have for too long kept us Episcopalians from working the fields so ripe for harvesting, and it’s time for everyone to either fish or cut bait. Me, I’ve long since stopped caring about what TEC does. Whatever happens is fine by me – I’ll just keep searching for that spiritual home where I can feel comfortable and find nourishment for my soul.

While Jefferts Schori’s sermon on the surface appeals to the dreamer in us all, it is an insult to the intelligence of those who love their church, still care about its survival, and hate to see it disintegrating before their very eyes because of those who choose to ignore the truly desperate straits it finds itself in. If the PB would rather make her vision of achieving “shalom in our time” the focus of her ministry rather than the health of the institution she is charging to help her make that vision reality, more power to her. Just don’t expect me to get all worked up about it – I’ve got more important spiritual exercises to attend to.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments (0)
November 26, 2006

wie Well, well, well… Look who entered another men’s tournament and once again, and not just missed the cut, but had to scramble to avoid finishing last in the field. That’s right, it’s our favorite teen queen and “wunderkind” Michelle Wie. Everyone who has followed the ‘Nation here knows that, while The Great White Shank thinks she’s more than a little cute, she’s being ill-served by her parents and her advising team by having her continue to enter men’s events and putting up BIG numbers (in this case, 81-80=161), the equivalent to something yours truly and fellow Goodboy Ron “Cubby” Myerow would do at a Goodboys Invitational.

Clearly, her game does not seem to be progressing under this strategy, and one could argue by her performance over the past year that it’s actually regressing (my bolding):

She has made the cut in only one of her 12 starts on men’s tours, in May in an Asian Tour event in South Korea. Last year at Kuroshio in her first appearance in Japan, she bogeyed the final two holes in the second round to miss the cut by a stroke. In her previous two men’s events, she finished last in the European Masters (78-79) and 84 Lumber Classic (77-81). In the event before that, she withdrew from the John Deere Classic because of heat exhaustion after playing 27 holes in 8 over.

Consider this: not only did she not birdie a single hole in this most recent tournament, but on the second day she finished with six bogeys and a double bogey after bogeying nine holes the first day.

That, my friends, is stinking up the joint.

The sad thing is, even though Wie seems willing to acknowledge how badly she is playing, she’s unwilling to let a simple little thing like reality intrude in the way of her mission (my bolding):

“It was pretty tragic, that’s how I’d describe it,” Wie said. “My driver wasn’t working at all and that put a lot of pressure on my short game.”

“Golf goes in waves,” said Wie. “I’ve played some pretty bad rounds lately and hopefully it’s time for some good rounds.”

She said the poor performances wouldn’t deter her from playing in men’s events.

“Not at all,” said Wie, winless in 33 career LPGA Tour appearances. “I didn’t play like myself today and it doesn’t bother me because I know I can play much better than this. I learn a lot from playing with the men.

Oh really, like what – learning to have your lunch fed to you every time you step on a golf course? This makes no sense to me. The girl is only 17 years old and, regardless of her obvious talent, this is way too much pressure to be putting on anyone – let alone yourself – at such an early age. Professional sports is littered with the wreckage of young talents who whose meteoric rise to fame and fortune result in burn-out, resentment, and disappointment, and this is road Wie finds herself traveling at a breakneck pace. Sooner or later – and it’s bound to happen – some other attractive young talent will come along and perform better than Wie is, and has been, performing, and she’ll find herself transformed overnight into exactly that – a has-been.

Again, Michelle, listen to your Uncle Shank here: tell your greedy advisors to pound sand and slow it all down; make time to do the things teenagers ought to be doing and enjoy life, for gawdsakes. If you need to keep feeding your competitive juices, enter some professional ladies’ tour events – at least there, you’re not just extremely competitive, you’ll be learning how to win tournaments, not just make cuts. Any schmuck on the men’s tour can have a good weekend and make a cut or two, and you’re above that. Like Roy Hobbs’ father in “The Natural” tells him as a youngster: “you’ve got talent, Roy, but sometimes talent is not enough.” And that’s exactly what’s happening here.

They say youth is wasted on the young, and Michelle, you’re currently wasting a lot of it on dreams you’ll have plenty of time to pursue in the years ahead. Do yourself a favor and take some time to enjoy your youth – if you don’t, someday you’ll live to regret not spending it in a different way.

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:34 | Comments (2)
November 25, 2006

OK, that’s it – I’m done. And I hope and pray the Prez and all those advisors who have been pushing a “stay the course” strategy in Iraq will soon finally admit that they’re done, too. It’s time to face the fact that even the best intentions – and in this case, our intentions were VERY good indeed – have to be tempred with a healthy dose of reality.

It’s time to get our troops out of Iraq.

With the escalating, horrific sectarian violence of the past two days – violence that has resulted in more than 200 deaths and, just this past day, the burnings of six innocent Shiite worshippers whose only crime was to want to worship their God in the vicinity of Sunni militamen, I think even the most optimistic observer would have to admit that Iraq has careened out of control and beyond our ability to restore anything resembling peace. I suppose every camel’s back is susceptible to that extra straw, and in this case, this most recent round of volence has served as that straw, as far as I’m concerned.

* It’s time to get out of Iraq and let the chips fall where they may.

* It’s time to proclaim that any foreign military excursion on our part is only worth it as long as there’s a willingness on the part of the people our troops are fighting and dying for to support our mission.

* It’s time to admit that both Iraq’s government and its people do not want peace and democracy as much as we want them to have it.

What is it that has brought me to this point? What finally made “dawn break over Marblehead” and bring me to my own personal “come to Jesus” moment when it comes to Iraq?

Simply, it was Free Republic poster “truth_seeker”, who, commenting on this post, hit both the nail, and me, upside the head with an observation so succinct and so obvious, I only wish I had come to that conclusion on my own (my boldings):

We have shed 3,000 lives to give these people freedom and democracy.

This is what they are doing with it.

Too bad Dubya didn’t know in advance of his experiment, that arab muslims are culturally and religiously incapable of civil, peaceful democratic self-rule.

I understand why he was so committed to the experiment. It was his compassionate side.

They behave in Iraq today as they have behaved throughout the region, for hundreds of years. Saddam fit right into the cultural context.

The acts ordered by Saddam differ little from these we are witnessing by both sides of the “new Iraq.” The free, democratic, unified, multicultural Iraq.

And this comment, by fellow “Freeper”, “Running Wolf”:

I hate to say it but this nation was a pressure cooker of violence that was kept in check only because Saddam was even more ruthless than his subjects.

I doubt we could stop it with even 350,000 troops on ground. This will run its course until most of the protagonists, inurgents, militias etc. kill themselves off.

Hopefully during this time leaders who love Iraq and its people will emerge to take it from the brink of destruction, and out of the hands of Iran.

If there was one weakness displayed by both the President and Secretary of State Rice throughout this time, it was their idealism and their view that the Iraqi people not only thirsted for democracy, but would do whatever it took on their part to foster it once we had helped them establish it. I can’t blame W. and Condoleezza for that – hell, I respect them a hell of a lot more for sticking with it as long as they have, as opposed to “cut and run” Democrats like John Kerry and John Murtha who put politics – not to mention their own political hides – ahead of the mission, with no concern for the health and safety of our troops.

(In some ways, what we are seeing now in Iraq is a direct result of Kerry’s and Murtha’s ill-advised proclamations, and the shameful “all negative, all the time” reporting of the mainstream press, virtually from Day 1 – both of which have not only weakened our nation’s resolve, but in the face of same, have emboldened the insurgency to redouble its own efforts.)

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in admitting at this point that the proper course of action is to withdraw our troops immediately. Regardless of whether it’s us or the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, there’s a lot of killing that needs to be done in order to extract the cancer that lies at the core of Iraq’s escalating violence. A lot of bastards and innocents alike are going to have to die in the days ahead in order to put Iraq right (whatever in the end “right” means), and I’d rather it was Iraqi-on-Iraqi doing that killing and dying as opposed to us.

And there’s nothing wrong in proclaiming that, at least to a certain extent, our efforts in Iraq have been successful. The threat to the U.S., Iraq’s Kurds, and Iraq’s neighbors in the region in the person of Saddam Hussein has been eradicated, along with any remaining vestige of his nuclear and biochemical aspirations, and that’s a good thing. And I don’t want to hear anything about by our leaving that any of our soldiers deployed over there have died in vain – in fact, the Iraqi excursion and – let’s call it for what it is – its ultimate failure, is, in my view, one of the most noble actions this country has ever undertaken, and one whose legacy will stand the test of time.

Would it have been nice to see Iraq fulfill all the dreams of democracy and stability hoped for by the President when he first issued the order to commence hostile action? Absolutely. Did the Iraqi regime at the time we invaded pose a threat to the stability of the region and, through Saddam Hussein, a threat to the Iraqi people? Absolutely. Did the government of Iraq portray itself as far more hostile and a threat than it actually was by foolishly thumbing its nose at the UN and its nuclear inspection teams? Absolutely. Therefore, the invasion of Iraq was both warranted and, in my view, the correct thing to do at the time.

The problem is that democracy, under even the most favorable of circumstances, takes both time and patience, neither of which the Iraqi government and our nation have at the present time. Anyone looking at this history of this country, this so-called “shining city upon a hill”, would tell you that. It not only took a good century to work out all the regional and cultural differences that existed when the Declaration of Independence was signed, but hundreds of thousands of casualties, on hundreds of battlefields, to make that happen. Unfortunately, Iraq is going to have to go through that necessary – and violent – cleansing action, and it shouldn’t be our troops having to do any more killing and dying than they’ve already been called upon to do, and done, with bravery, valor, and honor.

It’s time to let the chips fall where they may.

It’s time to pull our troops out of Iraq.

————

One final note: Rather than pull our forces completely out of Iraq, I wouldn’t be opposed to us maintaining whatever military presence was necessary in order to protect the Kurds, since as a people, they’re the only ones who have overwhelming and continually supported our mission from the outset – oftentimes at their own peril. As a result, they deserve both our continued respect and protection.

————

UPDATE 11/25/06 1:40 PM MST: Appears I’m not the only who shares my “Kurdish repositioning” final note. Mario Loyola in today’s National Review Online Corner links to this “this excellent and provocative piece by former Under Secretary of Defense for Comptroller Dov Zakheim, in today’s Miami Herald”, part of which contains the following recommendations:

* Focus on preserving stability in the region rather than on more elusive (and illusionary) goals relating to governance in Iraq.
* Recognize that Iraq is in the midst of a bloody civil war that the United States cannot bring to an end.
* Propose that instead of pouring more American blood and treasure into embattled Baghdad and Anbar provinces, we reposition our forces to Kurdistan to prevent a conflagration between Turks and Kurds; to the Shiite south and the Iranian border to limit Tehran’s influence; and to the West to limit Syrian meddling and help protect the Jordanian border.

Here’s hoping incoming Secretary of Defense Gates is thinking along those same lines.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:42 | Comments (0)
November 24, 2006

scrooge Ah yes, the holiday season is upon us. Only a month until Christmas Eve, and you can bet your snow boots it’ll be here before you know it. Out here in our Arizona subdivision, I’m kinda surprised at the lack of Christmas lights up on the houses – it seemed like last year there were more houses with more lights early in the season.

What do I like about the holiday season? Frankly, not much. My shopping’s done, so at least I don’t have to worry about the hordes of frantic shoppers that will fill the Kohls, Walgreens, and Wal-Marts between now and the New Year.

* Christmas movies are always a nice tradition. Unfortunately, all our Christmas movies are on VHS, and ever since we got our Dish Network, our VHS player doesn’t VHS play. So it looks like no Christmas movies this Christmas. My favorite Christmas movies of all time?

1. A Christmas Story
2. Scrooge, with Alistair Sim
3. It’s A Wonderful Life
4. Jaws (OK, so it’s not a Christmas movie, I’m gonna watch it anyways)

…And my favorite Christmas movie quotes?

Mr. Parker: “Ra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.”
Mrs. Parker: “Uh, I think that says FRAGILE, dear.”
Mr. Parker: “Oh, yeah.”
- A Christmas Story

Ebeneezer Scrooge: “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
- Scrooge

Nick: “Hey look, mister – we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don’t need any characters around to give the joint “atmosphere”. Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer?”
- “It’s A Wonderful Life

* Christmas music is always a great topic to debate. This year, I’m thinkin’ Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, Frank Sinatra’s A Jolly Christmas, and The Martini Kings. No more Mannheim Steamroller for me – after ten years of them, the shine has kinda worn off, ya know what I mean?

* The best part of Christmas, of course, is the time spent with my family and friends back east, which I’ll be doing the day after Christmas through New Year’s Eve day. Hopefully, like last year, I’m back in plenty of time to toast in the New Year with my sweetie and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Hopefully, unlike last year, I won’t return to find out we have to have one of our pets put down, as happened with our cat Sparkle. Not the greatest way to kick off a New Year, fer shure…

Of couse, any holiday season post would not be complete without wishing everyone out there a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation Blog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:08 | Comments (0)
November 23, 2006

thanksgiving

(Hat tip: Toni)

… from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation Weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comment (1)
November 22, 2006

sign Ever since my post about Gila Bend, Arizona I’ve really been getting into the Googie architecture thing and wish somehow that I had gone to architectural school way back when, as architecture has always been something I’ve been interested in, at least from a distance (no pun intended!).

What is Googie architecture, you ask? This, from Googie Architecture Online (a VERY cool site, BTW):

Alan Hess, the author of Googie: Fifties Coffeeshop Architecture, traces Googie back to three Coffee Dan’s restaurants designed by John Lautner in the early forties.

“He selected the vaults and glass walls and trusses and angles of his buildings to fit the original, often unusual, concepts of space he favored,” writes Hess.

Lautner originated the style that would be refined and reinterpreted by many others. Unintentionally, he also gave the style a name when, in 1949, he designed Googie’s coffee shop at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights in Los Angeles.

Professor Douglas Haskell of Yale was driving through Los Angeles when he and architectural photographer Julius Shulman came upon Googie’s. “Stop the car!” Haskell yelled. “This is Googie architecture.” While Haskell was dubious about the style, he made the name “Googie architecture” stick by using it in a 1952 article in House and Home magazine.

Growing up, I remember my folks would take us along the stretch of U.S. (Route) 1 between Lynnfield and Saugus, MA, and being enthralled by the cool restaurant and motel designs typical for the time – for example, the Prince Spaghetti House with its own “mini” leaning Tower (pictured in above link), the Kowloon Restaurant, and across the street, Frank Giuffrida’s Hilltop Steakhouse (pictured in above link) with the phony cows out front and the big cactus sign. (BTW, interested in some genuine classic Hilltop Steak House cocktail glasses? You can find them here).

What is it that attracts me so much to Googie architecture? I think, more than anything else, it was imaginitive, positive, and forward-looking, reflective of a post-war, pre-Vietnam era when, even amidst the tensions and uncertainties of the Cold War and the Space Race, anything and everything seemed possible. Googie designs reflected not only a preoccupation with space travel and the technological advances of the late ’50s / early ’60s, but the swelling prosperity of the baby boom generation where businesses sought to use their very architecture to market product and attract customers.

Along the way, Googie architecture inspired a number of similar non-traditional architectural trends, including Aloha (tiki) architecture (still seen in Chinese restaurant designs, not to mention The Great White Shank’s tiki bar!), and retro-futuristic architecture, and the novelty architecture found at any number of hotel/casinos along the Las Vegas Strip. (Hmmm…now I’m beginning to understand why I find Las Vegas so intriguing!)

If you’re interested in learning more about Googie and Googie-inspired architecture, these two wesites are HIGHLY recommended:

* Googie Architecture Online has a number of excellent articles, numerous way-cool pics, and what you can do to preserve Googie architecture in your neck of the woods.

* Googie Central at Road Side Peek features Googie-inspired architecture from across the USA, plus various road trips you can take that feature Googie-inspired designs.

* Lotta Living.com describes itself as “Your source for Mid Century Modern Lifestyle, Design, Art, Furniture and Architecture” – for those interested in taking Googie-inspired architecture inside your walls! Check it out!

——

On a related topic, the good news is that another famous piece of 20th century pop culture architecture – the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood – has tentatively been given monument status by the L.A. City Council:

Monument status would protect the building’s iconic exterior from being altered, although the structure could be used for other purposes.

The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission agreed in August that the building should be granted monument status.

The plan will now go before the full City Council for final approval. The celebrated tower, one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks and the world’s first circular office building, was the recording studio for such music legends as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and the Beach Boys.

Architect Welton Beckett designed the structure that was built in 1956, just north of the city’s storied intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, to serve as the headquarters of what was then the West Coast’s most powerful record company.

This sounds like great news. (Hat tip: beachboys.com)

UPDATE: Evidently, the decision to give the building national monument status is now official. Nice work, L.A. City Council!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:43 | Comment (1)

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