October 22, 2007

Like I always said, you gotta hand it to that J.D. Drew – he really knows how to get it done, and he’s one of the many reasons why the Red Sox are going to the World Series. A few thoughts after watching this series:

* Next to ESPN’s Joe Morgan, FOX analyst Tim McCarver is my candidate for the 2007 “Dumb As A Stone” award. All he wanted to focus on was the Kenny Lofton/Cleveland 3rd base coach controversy when the real story of this game was why Indians manager Eric Wedge chose to remove starter Jake Westwood after only 6 innings and 94 pitches. After a shaky start, Westwood seemed to have found his breaking ball and was mowing the Sox down pretty well, but Wedge chose to bring in reliever Rafael Bettencourt, who subsequently proceeded to allow the Sox to blow the game wide open. Totally stupid.

This is something I will not understand when it comes to big-league managers – they always seem to want to play ‘the percentages’ instead of riding the strong horse until he shows he can’t handle it anymore. If this were a July game, sure, I’d understand it, but in a 7th game when you have all winter to recuperate why on earth would you take out a hot pitcher? It’s October and the only goal is to get to the World Series. If you’re so concerned about Westwood, shut him down for the World Series – after all, he can rest until spring training!

* The unsung hero of the ALCS is young ‘un center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. With him in the lineup the Red Sox offense just seems to have a little more spring in its step – just as they did when he was brought up in September. Look, I like Coco Crisp as much as anyone else, but you cannot deny that Ellsbury is a catalyst that gets the lower third of the Sox lineup going. And by doing so, he impacts the entire lineup.

* I’ll admit it, I’ve been harsh on Red Sox manager Terry Francona as much as anyone, but in the 7th game he managed his pitching staff quite well. Of course, having starter Daisuke Matsuzaka go a strong five innings helped a great deal, but his decision to bring in Hideki Okajima for two innings followed by closer Jonathan Papelbon for the final two was absolutely the way to go. Good job Tito.

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:50 | Comments (4)
October 21, 2007

It all began last Wednesday when, turning my attention from work to blogging, I opened up the Goodboys Nation weblog office and was surprised to find two comments from someone named “Tightwad” to this post and this post. I stared at the comments (probably like a deer caught in the perverbial headlights) for a couple of minutes, mouth agape, totally stunned at what I was reading. “Holy crap!”, I said to the rabbits (who were happily munching away at their supper) “it’s freakin’ Bob Noftle – this is unbeliveable!”.

Bob and I were close friends during my high school years more than 30 years ago. I’m not sure we ever had that much in common outside of the fact that we were both outcasts in high school ‘society’ and shared a love of music, but for three or four years we were tight as ticks. Bob owned this Plymouth Satellite, and we would take long drives up to the north shore of Boston, listening to the music on the radio, shooting the breeze, and just hanging around together. Bob was absolutely the biggest Beatles fan I had ever known, and he took it upon himself to make sure I was drawn into every aspect of their music – a lot of it unfamiliar to me at the time. He had every Beatles and every wacko John Lennon/Yoko Ono early solo album, and we’d spend long hours up in his bedroom listening to their stuff. He also sold me my first car – a 1967 Chevy Impala that used a quart of oil a day, it seemed – for (I think) $75, before I had even learned how to drive (which is pretty funny, come to think of it). Once we graduated from high school, the two of us slowly began to drift apart – I started getting more involved in getting a band together, and there was a squabble over girlfriends, but more than anything else, I think it was just that as you get further beyond your high school years you begin to view the world a little differently and start crossing paths with a greater cross-section of people.

What Bob could never have realized, however, was the greatest contribution he made to my life – which was introducing me to the music of The Beach Boys. And this where past and present begin to merge, like some strange metaphysical bridge spanning a swift-running river of the years. You see, it was a paragraph from this post that served as the catalyst for bringing us in contact with each other:

…the impact of The Beach Boys as a musical force and inspiration upon the band was cataclysmic, and cannot be overstated. Doug recalls, “One day in early ’75 my friend Bob Noftle brought over this album, a double album ‘The Beach Boys In Concert’ and tells me something like, ‘you gotta hear this, man, these guys are great!’. The two of us had been close friends in high school and huge Beatles fans, but ever since they had broken up, we had been kinda looking for the next ‘big thing’, music-wise. Mark and I had been big into Pink Floyd for several years – even before ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, but Bob wasn’t much into their sound. Now, while I had heard some Beach Boys music before, and had even liked a number of their tunes enough to steal an 8-track of one of their ‘Best of’ albums while I worked at Zayre’s department store a few years before, I was totally unprepared for how the music on that album blew me away. I liked their look too – they looked kinda hairy and cool looking, so I immediately went out and bought myself a copy. When I played it for Mark, he was blown away too. We were both totally hooked, just as if we had smoked crack cocaine for the first time. From then on, it was pretty much all Beach Boys, all the time for us.

Which, of course is absolutely true, and the music of The Beach Boys has had a significant impact on not just my life, but that of my old Top Priority bandmate Jerry “Keys” Palma as well.

But back to the present: it seems that one day last week, Bob was checking the Internet like a lot of people do, entering their name in a search engine and seeing what they might come up with. After hearing Bob tell me the story, it’s actually pretty funny how this website made him work to figure out who exactly had invoked his name in this madness called Goodboys Nation weblog, but once he did, he started leaving comments on the posts I mentioned earlier. A couple of e-mails later and there we were, talking on the phone for the first time in over three decades, laughing and sharing things as if they happened yesterday.

You know, blogging regularly as I do here at this lonely outpost in the blogsphere can often be a challenge, and as others who do this kind of thing regularly for the simple pleasure of it, like Rob and Dave will tell you, it can be a love/hate kind of thing at times. Like a dog (or a rabbit) that’s been alone all day, the blog needs to be fed, and sometimes you start wondering what it would be like to just say “ahh, sod it”, and drop a line to everyone saying see ya ’round the ‘Net. But it is times like this (and like earlier this year when Lugs the Bartender checked in) that makes it all worthwhile. There is more than likely no way Bob and I could ever have hooked up again if it weren’t for this humble weblog, and it just goes to show how small the Internet has made the world around us and changed the way people interact with one another.

Bob and I are planning to hook up the next time I’m back East, and I can’t wait to see him. Between reuniting with my Top Priority bandmates and renewing acquaintances with Bob, this has turned out to be a year where certain things seem to be coming full circle. The mid-’70s and the 21st century have crossed paths and it is a strange thing to behold, that’s for sure. I can’t help feeling there’s some underlying purpose behind all this, but for now it’s something to simply enjoy for what it is. Great to have you aboard again, Bob – welcome back!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:42 | Comments (2)
October 20, 2007

Last Sunday the phone rings right after I had hung up the phone after talking with my parents. I figured my mom forget to tell me something, so as soon as it rang I picked it up. Bad idea. On the other end of the phone was a guy from the Republican National Committee, asking me if I’d be willing to renew my $50 dollar membership (how’s that for a major contributor!) to help in the fight to put the Republicans back in power next year. The following conversation isn’t verbatim, but you get an idea of the tone-deafness going on out there when it comes to Washington and the political parties who make their living there.

Me: No, I’m not interested, I’m very disappointed in the Republicans in Washington and will not even consider donating any money until they grow some balls and start acting like Republicans.

Him: But you don’t want the Democrats to take the White House, do you?

Me: There’s no difference between the Democrats or the Republicans in Washington right now. They’re all corrupt, they’re only interested in retaining their power, and they waste taxpayers money equally.

Him: But the only way we can change Washington is by putting more Republicans in power.

Me: The only way we can change Washington is to take away the political money. That’s the only way they’ll even notice we’re not happy out here.

Him: But if people like you don’t donate, others will.

Me: Let them. They’re not getting my money.

Him: Then you’re not a real Republican.

Me: If it means that I’m unwilling to give money to party that spends taxpayers money like it’s going out of style, a party that refuses to stand up to Democrats like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, and John Murtha and call them the unpatriotic traitors that they are, a party that doen’t have the willpower to protect and enforce our borders, and a party that’s so intimidated by Hillary Clinton that no one will call her out as the corrupt Socialist that she is, than, yeah, I guess I’m not a Republican.

Him: You’re going to cost our party the election next year.

Me: They’ve already done a pretty damned good job of screwing it up themselves, thank you.

Him: Have a nice day.

So there you have it. Maybe he’s right – maybe I’m not a Republican after all. The problem with Washington – and I think this holds true for both Democrats and Republicans – is that they forgot what got them there, and that they’re there to represent the people. Washington is a cesspool of corruption, ass-kissing, back-scratching, and wasteful spending. The man is right – whether or not small-time donors like me give, the George Soroses of the world will find ways to pump millions of dollars into the Democratic Party coffers; I have no doubt Republicans have their own channels to do the same thing. I’ve always said, however, in arguing against campaign finance legislation, that financial contributions are a form of free speech, and I’m making my own form of free speech by witholding any contributions to the Republicans until they start acting like Republicans – meaning, less government, reduced spending, lower taxes, protect the borders, school vouchers, and, more than anything else, fight the Democrats in power tooth and nail at every step along the way.

Because right now, from where I see it, there ain’t a whole lot of difference between the people on either side of the aisle. At least with the Democrats you get what you expected. Republicans need to start acting like Republicans before they get another nickel out of me.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:29 | Comment (1)
October 19, 2007

possum Here in Goodboys Nation, once the annual July event is complete, everyone scatters to the four winds. For those in the GB North, there will still be the occasional get together over beers and/or a sports event on TV (not to mention the annual “Viva Las Vegas” February weekend) to look forward to. And when you think of it, there’s no suprise there, as only Pat “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin is a father; the rest of us are basically free agents, accountable to our wives, girlfiriends, jobs, rabbits, Creator, and hockey and softball teams; nomads doing our best to try and keep one step ahead of time, the law, and – for me – the A/C repairman.

As for our cohorts in the South however, it’s a whole different ballgame. Wives, young ‘uns to look after and set a good example for, PTA meetings, saxaphone lessons and football practices. Y’know, pursuing the American Dream in all its hectic glory, and being the hunter-gatherer for the family unit. As such, we don’t get to see Goose, Vegas, and Possum hardly ever between Goodboys weekends, except perhaps for the occasional fall or spring golf outing, and that’s a shame. But that just makes seeing them the next time all that much more enjoyable. Somehow, and I don’t know why that is, it always seems as if Goose and Vegas are more accessible. Maybe it’s because they’re both former Lahey Clinic alumni (as am I), and you can always get them by e-mail if you just want to say hi.

But with Paul “Possum” Shepter, you never really know what the heck is going on between Goodboys events. He comes, he enjoys himself, never practices, plays some pretty good golf, and then he’s gone until the next year. You won’t get an e-mail from him, you won’t hear anything about him, it just seems as if he lives a kind of existential existence in his own Possum way. And while the Nation has kind of gotten used to that, we can’t help but think about what he actually does between Goodboys events.

Now, because of research done by a Fritz Geiser at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales we get the real story:

“I tested the hypothesis that the marsupial pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus), an opportunistic nonseasonal hibernator with a capacity for substantial fattening, would continue to hibernate well beyond winter. I also quantified how long they were able to hibernate without access to food before their body fat stores were depleted. Pygmy-possums exhibited a prolonged hibernation season lasting on average for 310 days. The longest hibernation season in one individual lasted for 367 days. For much of this time, despite periodic arousals after torpor bouts of ∼12.5 days, energy expenditure was reduced to only ∼2.5% of that predicted for active individuals. These observations represent the first report on body-fat-fuelled hibernation of up to an entire year and provide new evidence that prolonged hibernation is not restricted to placental mammals living in the cold.”

As Paul Harvey is wont to say, and now you know the rest of the story…

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:25 | Comments (0)
October 18, 2007

Reading the title of the post, one would think I’m bemoaning the Red Sox being at the very brink of elimination by the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Well, believe me, there will be AMPLE time to discuss why the Beantown Nine are spitting the bit in these playoffs, but this is not one of them. Rather, there is this story by Amy K. Nelson of ESPN.com about the recent death of former Sox reliever Rod Beck, who at one time was one of the best at his profession. Sadly, an addiction to cocaine ended his life, and Nelson’s story of his rise in the game, his battle with addiction, and his untimely death from it is both sad and heart-wrenching:

Whenever cocaine entered Beck’s life, it didn’t take hold right away.

But by the end of 2003, [wife] Stacey spotted the signs: staying up late, sleeping in, complaining of a constant cold, and becoming more distant emotionally. A friend told her it was coke, and that’s when Stacey confronted her husband of 15 years. He admitted to using and said he wouldn’t do it anymore. He had it under control, he claimed. It would never happen again.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she says, “so I did what many other people do — you beg and plead and ask them to stop.”

For Stacey, it was exhausting being a watchdog, wondering what he was doing every time he was in an adjacent room for too long, or when his trip to the grocery story took an extra 30 minutes.

Addiction was slowly taking away the father of their two daughters and the man who was her soulmate. By Christmas 2003, Stacey realized his addiction was now “bigger than we are, and something needs to be done.”

Nelson’s article is well worth the read, and one to share with someone you love or care about. It’s yet another reminder (as if we needed one) of just how ghastly the dance with cocaine addiction can be. Perhaps in reading it, someone’s life will be saved.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (0)
October 17, 2007

Two months ago I was reunited with my old Top Priority bandmates after nearly thirty years’ time. Today I came across a comment from this post, who turns out to be from Bob Noftle, my best friend from my high school days! As John Lennon once sang, strange days indeed. Man oh man, between this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and even this, 2007 seems to be a year for significant events, both good and bad. It’s almost enough to make this cynic wonder what his astrological chart for 2007 must look like.

Anyways, my very good friend and fellow Goodboy Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and I have often joked about doing a “Tour de Tewksbury” one of the times I get back East, hitting all the old Route 38 haunts that were there when we were growing up, and remembering old times from our high school years. But it all gets me to wondering: my home town of Tewksbury, Massachusetts has changed A LOT in the years since I grew up. Only a few of the places that were there when I was in my salad days are still there.

Actually, the only place left, I think, is the Jade East restaurant, where I remember back in 1968 (and don’t ask me why I remember that year specifically) we got take-out Chinese on New Year’s Eve. The Jade was right across from the Motel Caswell, which stood in front of the auto body shop where I had my 1969 Pontiac Tempest’s blown overhead cam 6-cylinder replaced with a 8-cylinder 400 from some worn- out GTO. (Ed note: The funny thing about that was, they just pulled out the old engine and dropped in the new, leaving the existing tranny in; you could burn rubber simply by applying the gas in a normal way!).

But all the other places are gone. Well, there’s probably a cocktail lounge at the Holiday Inn, but I’m not sure there was one there back in my teens and twenties. You had the Branding Iron, a low-key steak and chop house where my family did one of our first – if not THE first – of our traditional Easter dinners on a snowy Sunday back in 1971. And there was some bar named (I think) the Tewksbury Village or something to that effect which is now a very humble Mexican restaurant called “Pinatas”. And then you had the Jade Palace (or something like that) near the Junior High. I think it’s been a million names since. I remember one night Tracey and I dropping in for a nightcap and being surprised to find my cousin Gregg perched on a barstool. We had a lot of laughs that night…

And then heading into South Tewksburury you had The Oaks, which (I think) was nothing but a bar masquerading as a steak house, which was then replaced by the Oakdale Mall in the early ’70s, which after that was replaced by a regular shopping center (I think). And finally there was The Anchor restaurant, which was an Italian joint where we used to order pizza from. I used to like that place; when my brother Mark and I were crazy into our Beach Boys period we would order our takeout with the last name of “Jardine” (for Beach Boys guitarist Alan Jardine). It’s now a sports bar and grill called Mavericks.

But that, I think, is about it.

So now I’m now thinking that if Ben and I were to ever do a “Tour de Tewksbury” we wouldn’t need a designated driver after all – forget about all the fern-filled restaurants that now occupy the old Route 38 main drag that we remember, the Jade East is probably the only one that is left. So maybe it’s a couple of Mai Tais and a Pu-Pu Platter while talking over the old times and calling it an early night.

Time marches on.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:42 | Comment (1)
October 16, 2007

There’s no question that, at least back home and as far as the PGA Tour is concerned, the 2007 golf season is winding down. But that doesn’t meany there’s nothing to blog about, as this post will make crystal clear.

First off, Dean Barnett over at Hugh Hewitt has a couple of cool links associated with golf course design, including how Jack Nicklaus is proving that just because you were a great and creative golfer, well, that doesn’t necessarily make you an equally great and creative golf course designer. Here Barnett lumps Nicklaus into the Robert Trent Jones/Rees Jones school of course design:

Jones family members haven’t been the only architects guilty of committing affronts to golf history and ignoring the imperative that the game be fun. Perhaps the most serious offender has been Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer ever. Nicklaus has had a hand in designing 207 courses. While some of his courses are picturesque, few are fun unless you’re able to play golf as well as Jack Nicklaus. On many of his courses, the average player will lose half a dozen balls a round, many of them having found a watery grave in one of the man-made water-hazards of which Nicklaus is so fond. As a player, Nicklaus probably wouldn’t even notice many of the water hazards that litter his courses. But the typical golfer does.

Worse still, Nicklaus the architect has often violated the most fundamental precept of golf course design: Put a golf course where nature intended there to be one. Let the shape of the land dictate the shape of the course. People began playing golf at St. Andrews because the terrain cried out for it. Five hundred years ago, eager proto-golfers had limited ability to alter what nature had done. The tools of the game were adapted to the challenges of the terrain.

Barnett’s column is one worth reading.

…And then there’s this story about an ESPN reporter trying to find the truth behind a woman’s claim to have 17 hole – count ’em, 17! hole in ones since she started playing golf only five years ago!

…And speaking of frauds, yes, Michelle Wie is still out there trying to play decent competitive golf and failing miserably. And this latest result following yet another lackluster year from the one-time “golden girl of golf” isn’t likely to help. How bad was Wie’s year (my boldings)?

Wie, a Stanford freshman who celebrated her 18th birthday Thursday, played her eighth and final LPGA event at Samsung. She ended her season with a 76.7 scoring average, broke par only twice, failed to record a single round in the 60s, and made only three cuts.

Jeesh…a performance like that wouldn’t even have gotten her the Goodboys Invitational championship. Can we all agree that it’s time for her teacher David Leadbetter and her parents to back off and let her take some time off? She’s only digging herself a deeper hole.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:29 | Comments (0)
October 15, 2007

Got this tonight from fellow Goodboys Ron “Cubby” Myerow. This picture says it all:

priceless

Thanks Cub!

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:11 | Comments (2)
October 14, 2007

I sure miss the cool crisp days of October in New England. Here it was 94 today but you can still tell it’s October here in the Valley of the Sun by the way the swimming pool’s water temperature is dropping like a rock. I went for a nice swim yesterday and today but this could very well be the last weekend for that – the water temp is 72 and, while that might be acceptable for an ocean outing at Hampton Beach in mid-September, it’s starting to get a little nippy for that kind of thing here. Anyways, this is a lovely poem from a Roman Catholic website I happened upon and I hope you enjoy it:

I came to thee when life’s sweet maybells rang
And bright-eyed daisies in the field were seen,
When youthland’s thrush its morning carol sang
And bridal birch trees in festive green;
I whispered prayers in deep childlike trust:
My soul was unsoiled by sin’s gray dust.

I came to thee again in life’s high noon,
When heart and eye burned in ambition’s glow,
When first success set up its gay festoon,
And distant stars appeared so near and low;
I spoke my prayers loud, triumphantly,
Yet with a secret fear that haunted me.

I come once more now that life’s dusk is nigh
And offer thee my weary heart’s last love;
My eyes grow dimmer and more dark the sky,
All earth’s enchantments vanish while above
I see thy face and hear thee beckon me:
Come, rest thy head upon thy mother’s knee.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:34 | Comments (0)
October 13, 2007

algore So Al shares the Nobel Peace prize for his work in the film An Inconvenient Truth. What a guy! I’ll always remember my 52nd birthday as the same day this esteemed peacemaker who changed the world – literally transforming it into a garden of peace, love an understanding – with just a roll of celluloid finally received his due. He couldn’t win his own state back in 2000 – hence the freakin’ mess that resulted both immediately afterwards and, arguably, for the last seven years – but dammit, he’s good enough for the folks in Norway.

And that’s good enough for me. So congratulations, Al – never has anyone done so little to get so much acclaim for something so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Oh, but it’s not just me pouring accolades on Tipper’s husband, the always on target Mark Levin offers this stirring tribute:

“I’d like to add my name to those congratulating Al Gore for his peace prize. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who has done more to bring peace to this world – from Rwanda to the Sudan, from Burma to North Korea – than Al Gore. And what a selfless man. He always avoids media attention, preferring to direct accolades to the little people who do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes. And like Mother Teresa, Al Gore eschews materialism and luxury, despite his enormous wealth from oil and technology stocks. I hear tell that he insists on flying older private jets to his six-figure speeches. What a guy! I just wish there was another honor somebody could bestow on Al Gore — as long as it’s not president.”

(Hat tip: National Review Online’s Corner Blog)

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:25 | Comment (1)

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