April 18, 2008

You know what’s great? It’s when someone lives up to the expectations – big or small – you place on them. Kinda restores your faith in humanity a little bit, and also makes you think that maybe you’re not as crazy as your family and friends think you are, or as you might suspect. And this is especially true when it comes to the Church – after all, how many times have you found out that various spiritual leaders you once respected turned out to be not only poor leaders, but not very spiritual either.

I’m talkin’ here about Pope Benedict XVI – for not only is he talkin’ the talk, but he’s walkin’ the walk. No better example of this is the fact that this extremely intelligent, humble, and, yes, holy servant of God not only has talked about the grevious fashion in which his church handled the clergy sexual abuse scandal, but he took time out, on his own initiative, to meet face to face with several victims of clergy sexual abuse from Boston, the “ground zero” of that scandal. As Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe reports:

Pope Benedict XVI, in a dramatic move likely to alter forever the image of his pontificate, met this afternoon with five victims of clergy sexual abuse from Boston.

The private meeting, which was first reported by the Globe this afternoon and has since been confirmed by the Vatican, was brokered by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

The meeting took place at the papal nunciature, which is the home of the pope’s ambassador to the United States. The meeting did not appear on the pope’s schedule, but took place during the window between a Mass this morning at Nationals Park and a talk that he is to deliver later this afternoon to Catholic educators gathered at Catholic University of America.

You know, a lot of Catholics believe Pope John Paul II to be a great, if not one of the greatest, popes, but to me his pontificate will forever be stained by the way the clergy sexual abuse scandal was handled on his watch. Rather than take a firm and swift “no tolerance” stand by sacking the priests and the bishops most involved in the scandal, he not only pretty much swept it under the rug but actually aided and abetted those at the center of the crisis – for example, by allowing Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law to take a cushy job in Rome when he really should have gone to jail.

In his desire to meet with victims of this scandal (and especially so given the fact they are from Boston), this pope’s actions obviously speak louder than any words possibly could. But let his words also speak for him:

Benedict has spoken repeatedly about the abuse crisis during his first trip to the United States as pope.

He called the crisis a cause of “deep shame,” pledged to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood and decried the “enormous pain” that communities have suffered from such “gravely immoral behavior” by priest.

He told the nation’s bishops that the crisis was “sometimes very badly handled,” and said they must reach out with love and compassion to victims. At an open air Mass on Thursday at Nationals Park, he also urged Catholic parishioners to do what they can to reach out to victims.

Sure, anyone can discount Benedict’s meeting with the victims by saying it’s the very least he could have done and that doing so didn’t require a whole lot of courage on his part. And in that regard they might well be right. But I think this humble action by the head of the Roman Catholic faith speaks volumes about the man’s heart and the priorities he has set for his pontificate. And I find myself increasingly enamored of this humble and holy leader who is not afraid to face the big issues head on.

And I’m not afraid to say that if Benedict XVI hadn’t done something of this magnitude during his visit I would have been sorely disappointed, because I’ll admit it – I expect a lot from the spiritual head of the faith tradition I choose to attend on a regular basis. I’ve found that same kind of humble and holy leadership sorely lacking at the top of both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, and to see it at work in the Roman Catholic Church gives this Episcopalian just another reason to believe that his journey in the direction of Rome feels like the right thing to be doing.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:48 | Comments (0)
April 17, 2008

News headline: Poll Shows Erosion Of Trust in Clinton.

Typical of the mainstream dino-media, the Washington Post finally wakes up to the fact that, not only has Hillary Clinton judiciously padded her resume for the Oval Office, but (like her philanderin’, cheatin’ husband) has a bit of a problem with something so basic as telling the truth.

Lost in the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign’s aggressive attacks on Barack Obama in recent days is a deep and enduring problem that threatens to undercut any inroads Clinton has made in her struggle to overtake him in the Democratic presidential race: She has lost trust among voters, a majority of whom now view her as dishonest.

Her advisers’ efforts to deal with the problem — by having her acknowledge her mistakes and crack self-deprecating jokes — do not seem to have succeeded. Privately, the aides admit that the recent controversy over her claim to have ducked sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia probably made things worse.

Clinton is viewed as “honest and trustworthy” by just 39 percent of Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compared with 52 percent in May 2006. Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy. And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest, an area on which she once led both Obama and John Edwards.

Underscoring the Post’s article is a reality Hillary Clinton’s handlers must have finally come to realize, to their horror – the fact that, once you lose the voters’ trust, you’re toast. Voters can suffer a lot of things in a candidate – incompetence, insouciance, even arrogance, but they won’t suffer a liar. And Hillary Clinton cannot escape the truth (no pun intended) that voters have come to believe she is incapable of telling the truth.

Pathological liars don’t become president.

And that means Hillary! is toast.

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:07 | Comments (0)
April 16, 2008

Kicking off the list of The Great White Shank’s “Seven Wonders of the Musical World” is “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow”, released on “Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE” back in 2004.

Originally recorded for The Beach Boys aborted “SMiLE” album in the fall of 1966 – and original outtakes from the “SMiLE” sessions bear this out – this was no recent Brian Wilson creation by any means. Think about all the sounds the giants of the musical world circa ’66 (The Beatles, the Stones, Dylan) were creating at that time; consider the fruits of the flowering of the “West Coast Sound” by The Byrds, The Mamas and The Papas, etc. Listen to “Mr. Tambourine Man”, or “Monday, Monday”, the listen to “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” and be prepared to be BLOWN AWAY.

How to describe “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow”? Experimental. Incendiary. Psychedelic. Paranoid. Claustrophobic. Quite simply, in my mind, the most innovative and incredible piece of music I’ve ever heard. Even after numerous listenings, it never fails to amaze and awe. First, a frenzied burst of percussion, whistles and toots percolate on top of a series of rolling piano/bass notes, creating an image of frenzied activity bubbling in intensity that ends in a single, dying whistle wheezing over a playful calliope organ. Then the explosion: fierce, pounding drums, wailing violins, fuzz guitar, and thumping bass, and strange harmonies combine and reverberate in a pulsating aural pastiche that conjures up a hellish firestorm of blazing heat, chaos, and destruction, resulting in one of the most amazing and strangest pieces of music to come out of the ’60s, if not ever.

The story goes that for the “fire” section, Brian wanted to create something that would not only sound like a raging inferno, but scare people as well. After the recording session, when a sudden rash of fires occurred around L.A. (one actually burning down a building located near the studio), he freak out to the point where, even if SMiLE had been released, it wasn’t 100% certain “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” would have even been included. After all, Brian reasoned, if he wanted fire, you didn’t have to do a huge blaze, you could do something soft and warm, like a candle – right? Whatever.

There’s really no other way to put it: if SMiLE had come out in 1967 with this incredible 2 1/2 minute piece of music, everything that would have followed – and that includes The Beatles’ celebrated “Sgt. Pepper” album – would have suffered in comparison. But that doesn’t diminish in any way the 2004 performance of the song. I defy you to find another song from late 1966 (or, for that matter, since then) that even comes close to “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” in technical brilliance, creativity, and aural originality.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments (0)
April 15, 2008

Nearly $6,000 shorter in the old bank account than I was yesterday, there’s not much else to say about today except this George Harrison song from The Beatles’ “Revolver” album:

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five percent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman

(If you drive a car car) I’ll tax the street
(If you try to sit sit) I’ll tax your seat
(If you get too cold cold) I’ll tax the heat
(If you take a walk walk) I’ll tax your feet

Taxman!

‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman

Don’t ask me what I want it for
(Ah, ah, Mr. Wilson)
If you don’t want to pay some more
(Ah, ah, Mr. Heath)
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advise to those who die
(Taxman!)
Declare the pennies on your eyes
(Taxman!)
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

And you’re working for no one, but me.
(Taxman!)

Indeed.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:54 | Comments (0)
April 14, 2008

Carnac Taking a page from Carnac the Maginificent:

The answer is: Mosquitos and the New York Yankees

Question: Name two things God created simply to pester and annoy people.

Last night a lone mosquito seemed to know EXACTLY the moment I was drifting off to sleep when I’d hear his angry little whine in my ear or his little pesky mosquito body brushing up against my arm, leg, or toes. So up I’d get, turn on all the lights in the room and try and find the little bastard. A couple of times I came close, but at 3 AM every sound is amplified in the house and you simply can’t set out to destroy a mosquito and attempt to do it quietly. Hence, after a couple of failed attempts, and hoping I might have gotten enough of him to wound him (or at least convey my intent to do him harm), I’d shut the lights off and try and go back to sleep. And just as I was starting to get comfortable and drift off, the whole scene would repeat itself all over again.

Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of sleep to be had last night.

As for the New York Yankees, is there any member of the Bronx Bombers that doesn’t swagger and act like their God’s gift to baseball? How that organization is able to replace one generation of obnoxious punks with another shows real character, I’ll tell you that. Bobby Abreu. Melky Cabrera. Robinson Cano. Shelley Duncan. Kyle Farnsworth. Joba Chamberlain. All punks. All coming up and learning from the King Punk himself, Jorge Posada.

And it wouldn’t be so bad if the ESPN baseball announcing tandem of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan weren’t such kiss-asses to the Yankees. These guys are obnoxious enough as it is, but you’d think it was the Yankees, and not the Sox, who had won two of the last four World Series.

Hmmm…maybe I should change the title of this post to Mosquitos, the New York Yankees, and Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (4)
April 13, 2008

Anyone doubting that The Masters is the class of all the majors in professional golf need only to look back on Saturday’s televised round, which had enough twists and turns to keep even the most casual fan riveted to the television screen.

It isn’t just how photogenic Augusta National looks on television – with its green sculpted fairways and greens, and the woods lined with azaleas and dogwoods in all their spring splendor, that in itself would make for an enjoyable afternoon in front of the tube. But the back nine of Augusta is really what makes the tournament what it is – lots of risk/reward shots and the mental discipline required to block out of one’s mind a bad shot or poor choice in strategy inevitably is what separates the ultimate champ from the chumps.

Case in point Phil Mickelson. You could almost see the wind taken out of him when a lovely shot on 9 hit the flagstick and bounced back almost off thre green. Up until that point he had been making a modest charge; after that he struggled mightily.

If Trevor Immelmann goes on to win this year’s Masters, his shot on 15 that for some strange reason did not roll all the way back and down into Rae’s Creek will be talked about for years – muck like Fred Couples’ shot back in 1992 that led to his win that year.

And to watch The Masters in HD is pretty freakin’ cool.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox and the Yankees have renewed their rivalry this year. Is it any surprise that, while Manny Ramirez was the thunder behind the Sox attack in their 4-3 win yesterday, having Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia back in the 1-2 slot as tablesetters was the real difference? Terry Francona isn’t fooling anyone – he knows the Sox are a more explosive team with Jacoby/Pedroia in that 1-2 slot but he has to prove to both GM Theo Epstein and Coco Crisp that the Sox are simply going to have to swallow hard and have Crisp a very expensive fourth outfielder on this team if the Sox want to go far this year.

The Bruins are in the playoffs? Heck, I didn’t even know the NHL season was underway. There’s a rumor around here that Phoenix has a NHL franchise that didn’t make the playoffs. No offense to Columbus, OH but can you take any professional sports league seriously that has a team in Columbus, OH? Or one that practically every time makes the playoffs?

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 04:27 | Comments (0)
April 12, 2008

The Great White Shank’s “seven wonders of the musical world”. What makes for a “seven wonders”, you might ask? It’s the kind of song (or series of songs in an album) that would make me (or anyone, for that matter) stop whatever their doing – even work, sex, or (in my case) standing over a 6-inch putt to win the Goodboys Invitational, whatever – simply to listen because it not only is riveting, but in some fashion an architect of the musical house around which one’s earthly house might have been constructed.

Be it understood – my “seven wonders” of music will likely not be anywhere close to someone else’s “seven wonders”; more likely than not, they will leave more than a few scratching their heads. But music is a funny thing – there’s no accounting for taste, and, quoting my friend Dona, it’s its very transcendent quality that makes it such an intensely personal experience for me.

Of course, not everyone is into music sufficient enough to have even one “wonder”, let alone seven. (My lovely wife, for example, equates music to television programs – some of it she likes, some she doesn’t. But none of it makes for anything close to an intensely personal experience. And that’s because she – admittedly so, BTW – simply doesn’t have an ear for it.) But I do, and I have always had an intimate love/hate relationship with music to the point where there is very little I’m “in between” about – oh I suppose classical music…

But I digress. You might be saying to yourself, ‘Geez, Great White Shank, just exactly what are the “seven wonders” of your musical world? Well, you’ll just have to frequent these spaces over the next couple of weeks or so to find out. But here’s a hint: I’ve already blogged about one or two of them in these very spaces, and some of you might even be able to pick out one or two. Each will be discussed in the coming days in no particular order – after all, if you’re talking about true “wonders”, how can any one be considered greater than another, right?

In the meantime, I encourage anyone wanting to, to think about your own “seven wonders” musically and publish them here via comment. Encourage your friends to do likewise – it’ll be a fun exercise! After all, there are few subjects left that one can be passionate about anymore without being accused of being labeled a liberal, conservative, sexist, racist, xenophobe, or homophobe. Fortunately, music remains one of them. I’d love to see some of your choices.

So stay tuned (literally!)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:34 | Comments (0)
April 11, 2008

It all started with an innocent e-mail from Ron “Cubby” Myerow offering his thoughts on the first day of The Masters:

Boys:

Any predictions on the Masters?

Anyone see the opening ceremonies of the Red Sox Opener?

Bill Buckner throwing out the first pitch. Finally forgiven after blowing the 1986 World Series. A lot of Class from Redsox Nation.

Cubby

And that’s when The Great White Shank lobbed a hanging curve ball he knew would bring some rain – y’see, he knew Steve “Killer” Kowalski has a MAJOR issue with the The Masters allowing ancient-of-days legends like Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Charles Coody to tee it up with the young ‘uns…

Hi Cub –
My pick is looking really good Poulter’s ace on 16 was a thing to see.

Sergio Garcia putts worse than [Goodboy Jay Spielberg] Crusher ever did on his worst day.

Brent Snedecker and JB Holmes are a couple of punks. I don’t like them, and vice versa.

Sandy Lyle wants in at the next Goodboys.

I wish Arnie was playing in a group with George Archer and Gary Player just to torque Killer off.
TGWS

Obviously it worked, as Killer proceeded to go postal on the Sox and “The King”.

Cub – Glad you brought up the Buckner thing. Personally, I think it was cheap for the Red Sox to bring him back.. If I was him, I would have told John Henry to f**k off.. Oh yeah, now that we won two WS all is forgiven. We certainly didn’t feel that way after 86, did we ? What about win as a team lose as team ? Poor guy gets run out of town, his kids get abused…oh yeah, welcome back, Bill, we love you! Freakin’ hypocrites.

Time for those ole bastards to step down. You saw last night, they just got the final group in with no daylight left. Imagine if that geriatric threesome was on the course ??. Half the field would be teeing off this morning to finish up there rounds.. Adios amigos!

I like Justin Rose to go wire to wire and win… First time in 24 years a first round leader would have won. The last one was Ben Crenshaw in 84..
Killer

And Kevin “Goose” Dwyer, of course, couldn’t allow Killer’s obscenity-laced rage to go unchecked…

Gary Player at the age of 115 shot a 39 on the back 9 at Augusta. Amazing!
That old fart can still play. Imagine what he would do to [The Captains G.C.] the Port & Starboard.
Prediction 1: Furyk holds off Tiger on Sunday.
Prediction 2: Sergio (Who?) barely beats out Gary Player on Friday but still misses the cut.
Goose

…while Mike “Vegas” Clark, in his typical way, chose to stay above the fray…

Tiger by a few.

But The Great White Shank, knowing he had struck a raw nerve with Killer, went in for the kill:

It’s people like you who would want to keep people like Goose out of Goodboys simply because he hasn’t won any championships. You’re a cold-hearted, blood-sucking, sheep-herding, no-good son of a seventh son of a sailor.

Justin Rose has as much chance to win The Masters as Colin Montgomerie. [Ed. note: not playing this year]
TGWS

And Killer responded in kind:

Hey ! Listen here you two-bit piece of cow dunk…. I didn’t say let’s exclude all non-winners, just the ones who need a freakin walker !

Yes, Justin Rose will win.. Tiger will implode, throw a temper tantrum and be done.. Nerves will get to Phil and he’ll drop one into the pond at 16 on Sunday after having a 1-shot lead over Rose and watching him put one within two feet for bird on the same hole..

Too bad all the Goodboys are wrong – mark it down. Ian Poulter wins the first of his two green jackets this year.

Just another Masters Friday in Goodboys Nation.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 08:33 | Comments (0)
April 10, 2008

biff “Greetings, Mr. and Mrs. Sports Fan all across America and the ships at sea. I’m Biff Bulkie, reporting live from stately, majestic Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. Ablaze with the colors of spring and dressed in a vast virtual cornucopia of colors blessed by the dogwoods and azaleas, this annual rite of spring played amidst this cathedral of nature beckons visitors and players from all over the world – the players seeking that Holy Grail of professional golf – the hallowed Green Jacket.”

[momentary pause] “Er, I’ll have mine neat… merci beaucoups. Mmn now where was I? Oh yes.. [clears throat]

“Returning from its annual voyage across the Equator from the outer reaches of the Southern Hemisphere, the sun has brought with it the springtime of our dreams and kisses these hallowed – oops, I already used that adjective, or is it an adverb? – I mean these sacred grounds, providing a most exquisite setting for the drama that will undoubtedly unfold this weekend. The course itself is the star here: Amen Corner, Firethorn, Chinese Dogwood, Redbud, the Butler Cabin, the Eisenhower Tree – these words roll off the tongue like those great champions of golf’s golden age – Jones, Palmer, Nicklaus, Kowalski, Faldo, Woods.”

“And speaking of woods, did I ever tell you about the time The Great White Shank was playing a round with a few of the Goodboys one Saturday at Stow Acres Gold Club – this was ages ago – and left his 7-iron hanging from a pine tree? You wanna hear a great story… it was the most amazing, er, huh…?”

[momentary pause, clears throat]

“And so the world awaits to see what this storied event portends to serve up as this coming weekend unfolds. Will Tiger win yet another green jacket? Will Zach Johnson repeat? Will Paul ‘Possum’ Shepter and Steve ‘Killer’ Kowalski mail their $100 Goodboys Invitational deposits to The Great White Shank? Only Sunday will tell. They call Saturday “moving day” at Augusta. I believe I’m about to be moved out of the golf commentator’s role here at Goodboys Nation weblog.”

“This is Biff Bulkie, signing off from beautiful Augusta National. And remember, if you can’t be a good sport, at least wear a good sportscoat.”

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:10 | Comments (0)
April 9, 2008

Lemme see…it’s April and I’m looking at the calendar wondering when that first stretch of 90-degree days hits. Oh, here it is! Time to head up to the attic and double-check that A/C unit, as it will be on “Red Alert!” from now through the second week of October.

But that’s what happens when you live in a place The Travel Channel called #4 in its “most extreme weather” destinations (sorry, no link – it was just a program we watched last Saturday).

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments (0)

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