February 28, 2007

Ah yes, spam – the bane of every blogger’s existence. And a nuisance that fortunately, thanks to the Akismet spam filter feature the Blogs-About Hosting folks incorporated into the WordPress software that drives this weblog, I don’t have to deal with much anymore. With the Akismet filter, the only thing you have to is delete the spam every few days as it accumulates – much like one would do emptying out the Recycle Bin on your computer desktop.

One of the things that cracks me up about this spam junk are the messages that accompany it. Some of them are actually pretty creative in their own way, though oftentimes spelling seems a bit of a challenge. This makes me think that much of this crap is bombarding the site from overseas. But, since every blogger from time to time welcomes a compliment or two about his or her work, and since The Great White Shank is not above shilling for compliments, here are some of the spammy accolades that have poured in recently to Goodboys Nation weblog:

* a7r9u05k@see.to says: “nice site, very informative, well designed, easy to use … what can i say ? i love it…”

* c33rqb@aol.com says: “finally got a chance to check out your web page, and I must say that I’m impressed. Hope everything is going well. Take care!

* 1yakd4v79wbu@mail.me says: “I just want you to know that I think you did a terrific job on this websight.”

* znrljxocnfdmb@rocketmail.com says: “I happened upon this site while following the links from another site. Your site is wonderful and i bookmarked it. Thank your for the hard work you must have put in to create this wonderful facility. Keep up the excellent work”

* 9@mail.com’s message is short and sweet: “perfect site !!!!!!!! Perfect piece of work fellows !!!!!!!” Awwww, shucks….

* kdd52iux@usmail.com says: “Your website is beautifully decorated and easily navigated. I have enjoyed visiting this site today and hope to visit many more times in the future.”

* kllt71e6tqfolz@mail.ru says: “Keep it up (like I do ) Great site – loved the bit about yourselves.”

* hr6bxaz9si0z@classnet.pl says: “Could you please send to me the contacts of developer of your site? It looks so damn good!” Now there’s a compliment for you, not just good – damn good.

* I like this one, from d5tm9@aol.com: “The stuff on this web site is really witty and cool wise”

And last but not least, here’s my own personal favorite:

* From a2gv88kt@usmail.com: “Congratulations on finally setting up your site. I am sure the website will become a internet legend”

Well, doesn’t everyone dream of becoming an ‘internet legend’, at least one time?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:02 | Comment (1)
February 27, 2007

They were a young couple that always seemed to keep to themselves. Their house, adjacent to ours, was distinguishable from the others on our street only because they were the only ones who didn’t employ a landscaper to keep their front yard tidy. Not that it was unkept in any way – just that the husband could be seen on weekends mowing his lawn, or plucking weeds from their walkway by hand. They had had a baby two years ago, but the only way their neighbors would have known that is that a crib appeared in their garage one day beside all their usual stuff.

When one lives in a development where properties are walled in and garages part of the house construction, oftentimes the only time one sees his or her neighbor is when their garage door opens when they leave for work in the morning, or return from work at night. When this life of isolation and anonymity is compounded by being situated on a quiet, dead-end street, the only way changes in a neighbor’s lifestyle or situation gets noticed is when the cars they drive (everyone on the street knows everyone else’s cars), or the possessions they store in their garages (laid out for all to see whenever the door is left open) change. People can live or die, and grow fat, old, rich, or poor, but as long as the cars don’t change and what’s kept in the garage remains the same, no one would notice the difference.

The first sign of change next door was the appearance of a car with out-of-state plates – Nebraska, I believe. Were it friends or acquaintances dropping by for a visit, such an appearance would hardly have been noticed – after all, this time of year, northerners drifting south to thaw out at a family member’s or or friend’s house isn’t that unusual of an occurence. But this car (a silver Lincoln) and its occupant (an elderly gentleman) didn’t just stop out front for a day, or a week, or any time like that – it would come by in the early afternoon each day, stay for an hour or two, and disappear until the next day, when it would arrive again. Except on weekends. And it was strange how the car was never parked in the driveway – rather, it would always be left in the same place, along the sidewalk between our two properties.

It wasn’t long after the first time the car started appearing – 2-3 weeks, perhaps – that the two cars that would always appear going in and out of their garage at morning and night became one car. And who of the two had been left behind became apparent one weekend afternoon when I saw their child out front, watching the husband mow the lawn and pluck weeds from their walkway.

This morning, the dogs next door sounded an alert of some activity out front, and I looked out front to see what was going on. There, a man was pounding an all-too-familiar kind of post into the ground in front of the couple’s home, and a few minutes later, a “For Sale” sign swung easily in the soft breeze. Later, when I went for my afternoon walk to the mailbox, two contractor trucks were parked out front, ladders and painters having set up shop in their garage, freshly-planted flowers in the planters along the walkway.

Returning from my walk to the mailbox, a couple of our neighbors waved a silent hello as they went about their chores, and I returned to my office and the work waiting for me there.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:03 | Comments (3)
February 26, 2007

Thankfully, the Oscars are over with, and hopefully, all the overwrought, overblown, and over-done coverage of Hollywood celebrities in our over-saturated media environment. “Why’s Britney gone over the deep end?” “What was Angelina Jolie‘s phone bill last month?” “Say, aren’t Jennifer Aniston‘s boobs hanging 2 inches lower than they were last year?” “Nicholas Cage has a new pet iguana?” “Is that a varicose vein on Kate Hudson‘s lower shin?” The mind boggles. I mean, even if you’re into movies, does anyone really care or need to know about this stuff? And, even more importantly, why does every time one of these pampered, self-absorbed, limousine liberals open their mouths about the latest cause de célibrité (three years ago it was Bush-bashing, two years ago it was Darfur, this year it’s, of course, “global warming”), the media breathlessly awaits every morsel of wisdom from the “Gospel According to Hollywood”?

Why does the media (and, I’m guessing, millions of people out there, for if the people didn’t crave it, the media wouldn’t feed it) care so much about, and publicize so broadly what actors and musicians think? These clowns may have worked hard to get where they are because of some talent (or supposed talent) they possess, but simply because someone can read lines from another’s script and emote for the camera, or play a guitar while singing on-key, why should anything they blabber to the media be any more sage or viable than that expressed by you, me, the check-out girl at the supermarket, or Carmelo my landscaper.

(This has never been more true than when it comes to this seemingly new-found celebrity obsession with “global warming” and the latest round of headlines the so-called “experts” have been screaming about. And now we have an “all-star” group of celebrities and musicians saying we’ve only got ten years to save the planet, and Al Gore organizing benefit concerts? Madre di Dios!.)

Is it that our lives are so depressingly ordinary and boring that we need celebrities to fill some unfulfilled vacuum? I know this is nothing new – the “yellow journalism” rags of the 19th and early 20th century were just as audacious in the kinds of stories they would dream up, and people just as thirsty for the kind of swill they’d print. Perhaps it’s just that in our media-saturated culture there’s just so much more of it, from so many different sources.

But that doesn’t mean we should have to jump simply because Jessica Simpson thinks the temperature of her swimming pool is running hotter this year than last, or Barbra Streisand sees some doctored photograph of polar bears stranded on ice or Bono one of those Christian Children’s Fund commercials while eating his lobster thermidor. Laura Ingraham used her saying, “shut up and sing!” to push her best-selling book; on this Oscar night, while we all recover from our self-imposed celebrity stupor, I would add to that, “shut up and act!’.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:58 | Comments (2)
February 25, 2007

For months leading up to this past week’s gathering of Anglican church leaders in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Internet was buzzing with all kinds of speculation and prognostications as to what kind of actions would be taken against the Episcopal Church (TEC) as a result of its perceived slowness (some would say, unwillingness) to adequately make amends to the rest of the Anglican Communion for its role in ordaining a non-celebate gay man as a bishop, and looking the other way as certain U.S. dioceses permitted the blessing of same-sex unions – actions considered contrary to both the Church’s historic teachings and traditions, and the “will of the Church” as dictated by the Eames’ Commission’s Windsor Report of 2003, and Resolution 1.10 from the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

With progressives like Integrity (a gay/lesbian/transgender activist group within TEC), those on the orthodox side of the aisle (like David Virtue), and any number of others in between speculating as to what would happen (everything from nothing, to TEC being expelled from the the Communion), the leaders of the worldwide church body gathered amidst extremely tight security to pray, exchange ideas, and try and work together towards a solution that would draw the Communion back from the one thing everyone feared – schism.

In the end, there were no hysterics, or crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning, just the simple release of a communique in which Church leaders both rebuked TEC for its past actions, yet gave it time to formulate a suitable response that would address the concerns of the Global South (i.e., Africa/Asia/South America) churches, who see TEC as a runaway train acting on its own accord in the face of the Christianity’s traditional teachings and doctrines. I’ve read the communique, and, as is typical of these kinds of things, it is not – shall we say – the most riveting piece of work one will ever read. Fortunate we are, then, that none other than the New York Times (surprise!) got the jist of the communique in this article by Sharon LaFraniere and Laurie Goodstein:

Facing a possible churchwide schism, the Anglican Communion yesterday gave its Episcopal branch in the United States less than eight months [Ed. note: by September 30] to ban blessings of same-sex unions or risk a reduced role in the world’s third-largest Christian denomination.

Anglican leaders also established a separate council and a vicar to help address the concerns of conservative American dioceses that have been alienated by the Episcopal Church’s support of gay clergy and blessings of same-sex unions. Although the presiding American bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, agreed to the arrangement, some conservatives described it as an extraordinary check on her authority.

The communiqué yesterday detailed at length what the Episcopal Church should do to heal the rift over homosexuality. It called on the House of Bishops to adopt an explicit ban against blessings of same-sex unions and to make clear that clergy in homosexual relationships cannot be confirmed as bishops.

Hey, you gotta give credit where credit is due, so hat’s off to the Times for setting aside the usual spin and for once getting the story right. For years, the Western Churches within the Communion (the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, and TEC) have used their affluence and traditional positions of power to impose their wills and their progressive, post-modern agenda upon the churches of the Global South, even as they themselves were suffering significant declines in membership and their African and Asian counterparts were experiencing explosive growth through the teaching of traditional Christianity, oftentimes at their own peril due to the equally-explosive growth of fundamental Islam.

But with the issuance of the Dar es Salaam communique, all that has changed, for the leaders of the Global South have parlayed the growth of their churches and their power and influence within the Communion to draw a line in the sand – a line that will ultimately force TEC to choose whether its future lies as part of the Anglican Communion, or in some other arrangement. And in my view, this is both a good and necessary thing. For, regardless of one’s view as to whether homosexuality (and/or homosexual behavior) is, or is not, compatible with the teachings of Holy Scripture, there is little question that for far too long, the churches of the Anglican Communion (and every other Christian denomination, for that matter) have wasted far too much time, energy, resources, and good will struggling over the issue. And by issuing this communique, a majority of the Communion’s leaders have said enough is enough. As Virtue Online’s David Virtue observes:

What has emerged from the communiqué and in private talks VOL has had with leaders is that the communiqué is the last line in the sand for The Episcopal Church. The Primates will no longer discuss the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality. It is done. They now want solid and sincere action from The Episcopal Church, not a parsing of words and phrases and half-hearted attempts though words like “regret” or using the canons to steamroll the ABC or orthodox parishes, dioceses, clergy or anyone else.

The big question now is, how will the Episcopal Church respond? As Virtue notes, there is already a drumbeat starting within TEC to call the Anglican leaders’ bluff and dare them to take further action, or even leave that body on its own accord to start its own alternative Communion:

It is interesting to note that whenever Dr. [TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts] Schori introduced herself in Tanzania, she did so by saying she was the Primate of The Episcopal Church and 15 other countries. [Former PB] Frank Griswold never said that. Why did she add this fact? As you will recall at [General Convention] 2006 the ECUSA changed its name officially to TEC to embrace these other 15 countries.

There is the likelihood then that it will be TEC, not [the Global South] bishops who will step away, with Schori and her liberal/revisionist bishops now prepared to make the move away from the Anglican Communion and to form their own communion.

Already several revisionist TEC bishops have said that the TEC should go its own way rather than compromise over same-sex unions or the unfolding sexualities in TEC. Will she? Time will tell. The House of Bishops’ spring retreat takes place March 16-21, and Dr. Jefferts Schori said that meeting will provide an opportunity to begin to “engage and discuss the possibilities.” Nothing she has said to date would indicate how she and they will respond.

A move like this would be a huge mistake on the part of the Episcopal Church, I believe, for if it were to choose such a strategy, the floodgates would be opened and TEC would lose untold numbers of parishioners and churches, perhaps even dioceses. The result would be a radical realignment of the Church forced by the loss of both numbers and dollars – a situation that would have the resulting effect of reducing the power and influence of its bishops, something I find hard to believe the boys and girls in purple would ever let happen.

In the end, however, I’m not sure any of this really matters. The Episcopal Church of today reminds me of one of those huge snowpiles created over the course of a winter in some supermarket or mall parking lot. From a distance, it stands tall, seemingly impregnable and impenetrable by the strengthening late winter sun, but as each day passes, it is slowly and almost imperceptably receding into the ground, melting away before one’s very eyes. Presiding Bishop Schori can talk all she wants about feeding the world’s poor, eliminating poverty, and working together towards her pipe-dream of a global village united as one and at peace with one another, but she’s whistling past the graveyard. Sooner or later – and that day most assuredly is coming – the church’s infrastructure will start (if it hasn’t already) feeling the financial pinch resulting from declining numbers, pledges, and parish assessments. And left unchecked, one day she’ll find herself presiding over a Church whose relevance has long been but a memory, its empty buildings the only evidence of a once-venerable institution that, confidently proclaiming the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was proud to call itself Anglican.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments Off on A Line in the Sand
February 24, 2007

carl Sitting at the bar at the FloriDema’s pizza joint tonight and enjoying my accustomary Pinot Grigio, Leah, one of the lovely young waitresses for whom (for better or for worse) I have assumed a “big brother” role, stopped by and remarked how difficult her week had been. At 20, and (equally for better or for worse) recently engaged to a young man with whom she has had an off-and-on-again relationship ever since we started getting our Friday night pizzas there, she’s always come to me for small talk and advice on various life issues. Having compassion for someone three decades younger than myself (!), I’ve always been happy to offer my opinion (for what it’s worth), and, ahem, the experience gained from the better part of five decades on this earth.

Tonight, she was mentioning how difficult it was to carve out an identity for one’s self – especially when you’re young and seriously involved in a relationship with someone else. In the middle of some ‘sage’ advice, without even thinking, really, I tossed off an off-hand comment of, “well, you need a mess of help to stand alone” (remembering a favorite Beach Boys title from their early ’70s “Carl and the Passions – So Tough” album). For whatever reason, she really liked that phrase, and, before I could tell her what kind of nonsense it was, said it was something she would think about and keep in mind.

Munching on pizza afterwards (and cursing myself for the kind of two-bit philosophy I’m all too prone to toss out without thinking), I put the CD on the player and, listening to the song, felt much better after hearing the funky wordplay of the lyrics (as written by Carl Wilson and Jack Rieley):

I need a breeze blowing softly
To keep my wind vane from standing
I need a whole lot of sunshine
To keep my sundial advancing
I need some soil ‘fore my grass will grow
I need some spark to make my candle glow

“Relief”, I cried, ain’t no shuck ‘n’ jive
I need a mess of help to stand alone

I need a spark by a fire
To stop the cold of my winter
I need a burst of your raindrops
To keep a flow in my river
I need a call ‘fore my phone will ring
I need your song ‘fore my voice will sing

Please realize that I’m not half alive
Without a mess of help to stand alone

(She don’t know me)
(She don’t know it)

I need the warmth of your smile
To heat my frostbitten sorrow
I need your hand on my shoulder
To lead todays to tomorrows
I need your strength to lock me to the track
I need your trust to bust the things I lack

“Belief”, I cried, ain’t no shuck ‘n’ jive
I need a mess of help to stand alone

(She don’t know me)
(She don’t know it)

It’s funny, I thought, how a certain turn of phrase can click with someone, perhaps take them to a place they haven’t been before, or at least think of things in a whole new different way. Whatever. I just always thought it was a good tune.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:24 | Comment (1)
February 23, 2007

Who knows how it came up during our Goodboys weekend in Las Vegas, but somehow, whether it was during our Saturday round of golf at Angel Park and/or our dinner at Red Square afterwards, fellow Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski brought up this song – a hit for The Fifth Dimension back in 1971. The song, written by that killer songwriting duo of Hal David and Burt Bachrach, who, while especially writing for Dionne Warwick, had a number of fine works they could take credit for – unfortunately, this was not one of them. Nevertheless, ever since Killer brought that damned tune up, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind, and frankly, it’s starting to tork me off.

Therefore, in the hope that a good fisking of the lyrics will somehow exorcise the song from my cranium, here they are in all their glory with my ‘expert’ commentary. But before I do, there’s a significant assumption I’m making here, which is: since both the writers of the song have significant experience writing for female artists, and the lead singer of this song was a woman (Marilyn McCoo), I’m going out on a limb and assuming this song was written for a woman to be sung from a woman’s perspective. Oh, and one more thing: this song had a kind of call-and-response thing going between McCoo and the group, so the lyrics you see in parentheses are what the group sang behind her. Got it? OK, here we go:

One less bell to answer
One less egg to fry
One less man to pick up after –
I should be happy, but all I do is cry…

I’m thinking this was a pretty dysfunctional relationship right from the git-go. Most people listening probably think the chick’s upset because her lover’s gone, but I’m thinking the real reason she’s upset is because suddenly she’s got way too much time on her hands due to no: a) bells to answer, b) eggs to fry, or c) men to pick up after.

I think we need to look at this more closely. If she was picking up after the dude and frying his egg in the morning, one must assume the guy was either living there, or at least staying for breakfast on a regular basis, right? So why would he have to ring the bell whenever he came over? I’m thinking, if the guy felt comfortable enough there to be leaving dirty dishes behind, tossing his clothes all over the floor (and probably leaving the toilet seat up as well), shouldn’t he have at least had a key? I mean, what’s up with that?

Me, I’m thinking the woman must have either: a) been a total beast and tossed his sorry a$$ outta there, but now regrets it, or b) the guy was a total beast, to the point where she had to toss his sorry a$$ outta there but she now regrets it. I mean, there’s no middle ground here. Whatever happened, he’s gone, and now she’s hanging around a very quiet (but very clean) house with no one to ring her chimes (so to speak) and nothing to do except contemplate all those damned eggs in the refrigerator. And she’s upset about it. Next.

(Cry, cry, no more laughter)
Oh, I should be happy (Oh, why did he go)
I only know that since he left my life’s so empty

No more laughter, eh? Oh yeah, that relationship sounds like it musta been an absolute howl. OK, here’s the song’s middle eight:

…Though I try to forget, it just can’t be done
Each time the doorbell rings I still run
I don’t know how in the world to stop thinking of him
‘Cause I still love him so
I end each day the way I start out, crying my heart out…

A question: how often does your doorbell ring? Once, twice a week if you’re lucky? If you really think about it, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless the chick’s living on some traveling salesman’s equivalent of Boston’s Green Line. So what we have here, basically, is a totally distraught woman, crying when she wakes up, crying throughout the day, running to get the door in the pathetic hope that dude shows up hungry for eggs, and crying herself to sleep each night. Maybe it’s just me, but that don’t sound like much on an existence. Can you say, t-h-e-r-a-p-y? Let’s continue.

…Oh, one less man to pick up after
No more laughter, no more love
Since he went, oh, he went away.
(One less bell to answer) Why did he leave me?
Oh, why, why did he leave?

I think that question has already been answered, don’t you?

Now I’ve got one less egg to fry,
One less egg to fry,
And all I do is cry!
Because a man told me goodbye.

Enough with the eggs already! Make an omelet, for Gawdsakes!

Somebody tell me please –
Where did he go?
Why did he go?
Tell me, how could he leave me?

(A word about songwriting here. This is one of the most Gawdawful, tired cliches you’ll find in pop music – the distraught protagonist telling anyone who’ll listen that the one they loved is gone; now they’re pleading for any information as to where they might be. It’s pretty pathetic. Paul Anka did [“Donna”], the Chi-Lites [“Have You Seen Her?” – a good tune, BTW], heck, even Gordon Lightfoot [“On The High Seas”] have succumbed to this.)

In this case, the woman seems to have now taken to the streets to ask anyone she encounters where her man has gone, and why he left her. The first is a legitimate question – that is, when your talking about cats, dogs, snakes, rabbits, hamsters, etc., NOT a great thing when you’re talking about someone you used to fry eggs for and pick up after. What do you do, you hang notices on mailboxes, trees, and light posts, right? Now the second question, of course, is a whole ‘nuther thing entirely. I mean, what does she expect total strangers to tell her? How the heck are they supposed to know why some guy left her? This makes absolutely no sense to me – much like this song.

So there you have it. Bottom line here – the woman is nuts, which is why the guy probably never asked her for a key to begin with, and dude only came over when he was hungry for breakfast (and whatever else was on the menu, if you know what I mean…).

Hopefully, this post will take care of this dumb song rattling around in my brain and allow me to get on with the rest of my life, starting with breakfast tomorrow

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments (5)
February 22, 2007

hill You’re Hillary Clinton, and ever since you became the First Lady of Arkansas, you’ve been accustomed to getting what you want, when you want it.

From virtually Day 1 upon your entry into the national spotlight, you strived to carve out a reputation of being smart, savvy, and, most importantly, your own woman. But I’ll bet you were never more smart and savvy than that day years before when you made the decision to hop on your husband’s coattails to get you where you wanted to be, even though you probably already knew then from your marriage that, in doing so, you had made a deal with the devil.

For, as much as you’ve always tried to stress how independent you are, truth is, without your husband, you’d be nowhere near where you are today. After all, it was him that gave you the opportunity to step out on your own with that cockamamie national health insurance study group, and him who gave you the necessary cover when you screwed that thing up to no end. Then, curiously enough, largely out of the public’s sympathy for you following that Lewinsky thing, you were allowed to put such unpleasantries as Vince Foster and Whitewater, and the White House travel office debacle behind you so to position yourself for that New York Senate run. And, is there any doubt that without your husband’s significant network of friends and benefactors your election there would not have been possible?

And that’s where, I think, your problems began. Because ever since then, as you’ve tried to distance yourself from your husband and carve out an identity of your own, slowly but increasingly, you’ve also revealed yourself as someone who never took notes on your husband’s incomparable political instincts, someone all too willing to bend to whichever way the political winds are blowing at the time. Before the U.S. invaded Iraq, to show just how tough you could be, few in your party used rhetoric as forceful as yours (Hat tip: The Tar Pit) stating that Saddam Hussein and his regime had to go. And, as your eyes on that 2008 presidential prize grew ever bigger, you doggedly held on to the center, even as a slow trickle of Democrats opposing the war turned into a deluge. After all, to keep as many potential 2008 voters in play, you felt you had to keep all your options open. And you got too careful; tried to play it too safe.

Enter Barack Obama.

Suddenly, almost overnight, you’re no longer the dynamic and forward-looking idealist in the race, but a sad, tired throwback to those pre-9/11 days of the Clinton Years. And now you’re thrashing about like a marlin on a line, trying anything and everything you can to alter the perception that your campaign for the Presidency is starting to go south. Which, BTW, is something you simply cannot afford to let happen, since your margin for error is already mighty slim, given your horrendous disapproval numbers.

Evacuate the center and tack back to the left? Bad idea, ’cause, if you hadn’t noticed while you were gone, that spot got taken. And then some. Telling a group of lefty moonbats in San Francisco that you’re gonna take the oil companies’ profits and put them towards alternative forms of energy might play well on the Left Coast, but it scared the crap out of those so-called “independent” voters you cherish so. And if you thought your Johnny-come-lately appearance at the Iraq troop withdrawal dance would smooth the ruffled feathers of the anti-war left, think again.

You’re Hillary Clinton, and you’ve fallen into a trap of your own making. A trap, because once people stop believing (if they ever really believed) your sincerity about your beliefs, you have nowhere else to go but down. Remember that, politically, you’ve already got more baggage than the cargo hold of a fully-loaded Airbus 340. Want proof? Ask Hollywood, or the AP and CNN, or, perhaps most problematically, Maureen Dowd (Hat tip: Drudge). If this keeps up, the only recourse you’ll have left is to drag your husband – coattails firmly attached – out in front of audiences to remind them of the successes “Bill and I” had years ago, and those issues “Bill and I” stand for. And if (and when) that happens, consider yourself finished, done like dinner.

You’re Hillary Clinton, and you’re wondering how the heck things got so screwed up so fast.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:30 | Comments Off on The Hillary Trap
February 21, 2007

Wretchard at The Belmont Club looks at this past Sunday’s bombing of an Indian train en route to Pakistan as a prime example of the continued evolution of warfare from something binary in nature (you’re either ‘at war’ or you’re not) into something that is far more difficult to characterize and, for nations considered part of the so-called ‘civilized world’, far more difficult to fight.

Whenever President Bush has discussed the so-called ‘Global War on Terror’, he has usually been quick to add that this is a different type of war than those of our past where, like, say, in World War II, you declared war, knew when/how hostilities would commence, and, perhaps most importantly, knew when or how the war would end – surrender or defeat by one or more parties. As Wretchard observes, we may be at some point in human history where that binary model of war is rapidly becoming outmoded, and instead replaced by a new model where acts and actions once typically associated with ‘real war’ take place not on a ‘field of battle’, so to speak, but in places that are part of everyday life and deliberately target non-combatants:

Attacks on innocents have become part and parcel, even a “feature” of extended negotiations between terrorist entities and civil society. For example whenever some kind of peace initiative is attempted between Palestine and Israel, a suicide bombing is inevitably waiting in the wings. Every time the Iraqi government attempts to achieve some reconciliation between factions, a car bomb is readied in some garage to wreak carnage on an unsuspecting marketplace. Killings have become as much a part of the Peace Process as the green baize table. One may speak of the cost of war. But what of the costs of “engagement”? And at what point do they become indistinguishable?

How does one fight such a war? As in the past (think of the colonists engaging the British during the American Revolution, or the Mujahideen against the Russians in Afghanistan), or even now as the insurgency against the U.S. is being played out in Iraq, the key seems to have become to lengthen and widen both the battlefield and those involved in ‘combat’ so the larger, more powerful force loses the ability to concentrate force and react quickly. Consider Iraq. Is there any doubt that if the insurgency and al Qaida chose to fight one sustained battle in a single location the U.S. military would wipe them clean off the face of the earth? Of course not, and while the insurgents know they’d never defeat the U.S. in that kind of battle, they do know they can wear down our resiliency by pecking away at us one attack at a time. All it takes is some rudimentary bomb, a crowded marketplace, and Katie Couric or a CNN broadcast, and they’ve chipped away a little bit more at our will and desire to wage such a war.

Back in the ‘good old days’, waging war against a civilian population was a strategy or tool employed within a greater conflict being waged between armies. What we are increasingly seeing, whether it be in Spain, on 9/11, in India, or in Iraq is a mirror image, where civilian populations are the battlefield and large armies stationed in and around them are forced to either stand around and watch or frantically attempt to adapt.

The unfortunate reality is that it makes no difference whether U.S. forces leave Iraq today, in 90 days, or two, or even twenty years from now; the die has already been cast. The tools of battle used by the insurgents in Iraq and terror organizations throughout the world – an IED planted on the side of a road or in a train, the homicide bomber who walks into a crowded restaurant and detonates himself, or the use of a passenger jet as a missile have already proven their success. And until some nation figures out some new way of effectively combating this new kind of warfare, Wretchard is right – we’re only going to see more of it.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:29 | Comments Off on Contemplating Warfare
February 20, 2007

mirage Seems hard to believe it’s been only a week since our Goodboys weekend in Las Vegas – already seems like it was months ago. And that’s from someone living in the same region, with the same kind of weather; I can’t imagine what it must feel like for the lads back in Massachusetts. But outside of the usual places we went to and the people we met, a few memories and lasting impressions remain:

* Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis at The Mirage’s Kokomo’s Bar, Friday morning: “Some guys fantasize about girls; this is what I fantasize about!”

* Remembering that if you’re gonna do it up on Saturday night in Las Vegas, be prepared for long waits at cab stands, restaurants, and lounges – the place explodes with people and it can be a little difficult getting around, but it’s still an incredible vibe.

* The cab ride from the John Wayne afficianado wearing (as he told us) an exact replica of the hat worn by The Duke in “The Shootist”. Lots of laughs just tossing back and forth our favorite John Wayne movies. (BTW, cab rides are always one of my favorite parts of our weekends because the ‘boys love to chat it up with every cabbie we hop a ride with. We’ve run into some pretty strange dudes in the past: Danny the so-called “Elvis impersonator”, and the guy who got his jollies making pedestrians scramble for their lives are just two that come to mind, but most times you meet some very interesting and nice people.)

* Figuring out a divorce arrangement where Tracey gets the house, the 2 cars, the swimming pool, the tiki bar, and the four rabbits, and I get my laptop and the go-go dancer who was dancing in the large “O” letter at The Mirage’s Revolution Lounge Friday night, and figuring I’m getting the better of the deal. (Just Goodboys having some fun…)

* “I was once a 16 handicap, but since I got The Jackrabbit, now I’M winning all the bets in my Saturday foursome. Thanks, Jackrabbit!” (Don’t ask…)

* Heading down to The Mirage’s Spa for some whirlpool, sauna, and a lounge with cucumbers over my eyes.

* The blackend fish sandwich and a Bubba’s Big Bamboo (“A big, stiff drink. Banana Rum, Myers’s Dark Rum, Nassau Royale and Triple Sec shaken with orange juice and coconut cream”) at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Las Vegas.

* The steak (medium rare) and eggs (over easy) at The Peppermill. Almost worth making the drive back to Vegas all by itself.

* …And how could I forget Becky the bartender, and Michelle and Holly, the lovely cocktail waitresses at the Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge?

* And speaking of bartenders, Patricia at the Wynn Las Vegas, who took my basic “Gardner McKay” boat drink (Mt. Gay Eclipse Rum, Myers’s Dark Rum, pineapple juice, twist of lime) and turned it into a masterpiece called the “Patricia Delicia” with the following:

– 1 oz. Mt. Gay Eclipse Rum
– 1 oz. Myers’s Dark Rum
– 2 oz. pineapple juice
– 1/2 lime squeezed
– splash of Orange Curacao
– splash of sweet and sour
– dash of bitters

Note #1 – If you hadn’t noticed, these are all just variations on your basic “Mai Tai” cocktail.

Note #2 – For a slight different taste and a very pretty color, change the Orange Curacao to Blue Curacao and watch it go green! (BTW, Patricia informed us that the difference in taste between the orange and blue varieties is in the oranges used.)

Thanks, Patricia – it was our privilege to be your customers Sunday night.

* Learning to play blackjack (and coming out $65 ahead on my $100 investment) at the Golden Nugget while seated with the other Goodboys at the same table. A kind dealer named Pok helped me through some basic rules, and fellow Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski offered tips that helped make thing make sense. $10, single-hand blackjack – not a bad lure to go downtown on a Vegas Friday night!

* And finally, my favorite quote of the weekend goes to “Killer”, ordering himself a Zombie cocktail from the afore-mentioned Michelle at the Fireside late Sunday night:

“I’ll have a Zombie, and keep ’em coming until I turn into one.”

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:18 | Comment (1)
February 19, 2007

keith Sad to hear the news that former Oakland A’s and Red Sox closer Keith Foulke decided to hang up his spikes Friday, informing the Cleveland Indians (whom he had recently signed a 1-year, $5 million contract to play with) that recent elbow pain, on top of pain he had already been dealing with in both his knees and back, would prevent him from continuing to play anymore.

I always liked Keith Foulke, though he was never really cut out for playing under the media microscope that is Boston. All the guy ever wanted to do was pitch, but somehow that was never enough for the whiny girly-girls that make up the majority of the Boston sports media, and (at least I hope) the minority of Red Sox fans. Back in 2005, when he was pitching poorly while wrestling with bad knees, he was absolutely mauled by the Boston media for comments he made after being booed following a particularly bad outing, as the Globe’s Steve Silva is quick to remind us:

Foulke lost some stature in the eyes of fans because of several flare-ups in Boston over the past two seasons. ”They’re not going to make it any harder than it is for me to go home and look in the mirror,” Foulke said about the booing that rained down from the Fenway stands in June 2005. “Like I’ve told [the media] plenty of times, I’m more embarrassed to walk into this locker room and look at the faces of my teammates than I am to walk out and see Johnny from Burger King booing me. I’m worried about these guys, not everybody else.”

Well, that last ‘Johnny from Burger King’ comment was all the elite types at the Globe and Herald needed to hear, and they never let Foulke forget it. Rather than just let slide a comment made obviously out of frustration and anger by a struggling pitcher, the Dan Shaughnessys and Tony Massarottis of the world, who love to sit on their high thrones just waiting for a Boston athlete to say something they can use to generate negative headlines and stories, pounced, utimately forcing Foulke to issue an apology – something that never should have been necessary.

Sure, he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, what Foulke did to end the Red Sox’ world championship drought back in 2004 was more than sufficient. Sure, had his up and down stretches during the year that would either have you pumping your fist in the air in exultation, or heading for that secret spot where your wife thought she had sufficiently hid the Cuervo Gold. But, by and large, Foulke served the purpose for which Theo Epstein signed him during those dreary Grady Little, post-2003 Yankee series meltdown days in the winter of 2003-04.

People can continue to carp on Keith Foulke, but me, I’ll always remember watching him field that grounder hit by Edgar Rentereia, run towards first base, then ever-so-carefully toss the ball to Doug Meintkiewicz, raising his arms in triumph before all the hugging and kissing began, and Red Sox fans all over the world popped the corks on thousands of champagne bottles.

So best of luck to you in the future Keith, and thanks. Those nattering nabobs of negativity in the Boston media may not have liked you, but to me, you were always OK. You did the job you were brought here for – to help bring us long-suffering Red Sox fans a world championship and a season we will never forget. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:57 | Comments Off on Thanks, Keith


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