July 31, 2008

Manny You loved him or you were frustrated by him – or both. But there’s no doubt that the eight-year reign of Mannymania in Boston was eventful and a successful one, even if at the end the team had to pay dearly to have the L.A. Dodgers take him off their hands. Rather than writing my own essay about Manny, I’ll let two others do the talking – both of whom who express their sentiments far better than I ever could.

First, this rather sentimental commentary by one Wolfe Coleman, a commenter at the Boston Dirt Dogs website:

“Given the recent trend of success that we in Red Sox Nation have been blessed with, I hope we do not all forget the journey we have taken to get here, and specifically, the role of Manny Ramirez in that journey.

“He came to us at the last second, when we had missed out on Mussina and needed to make a splash. The kid from Cleveland with the picture perfect swing, who smiled like a Little Leaguer when he played. That was our Manny. We embraced him, we cheered for him, we placed our hopes for the future in his able hands. And he delivered for us, time and time again. In the wake of all that has happened, let us not forget that Manny gave us hope when there little to be had. When a history of near misses and complete failures weighed so heavy on us that we thought we were destined for a lifetime of misery. When the Yankees were an unstoppable force that could not be reckoned with. In the face of all these things, we had Manny. Suddenly, nothing was impossible. We had Manny. There was possibility! Because we had Manny, there was always a chance.

“True, he has not always played the game the right way, and it can be argued that his attitude was sometimes less than helpful to the team chemistry, but through all the drama he never lost that swing. It remained a thing of grace of beauty to be admired and copied by a generation of young fans. And he never lost the enjoyment of the game. While he may have been dissatisfied with the front office or the management, he never stopped loving the game. There were always moments when you could see in Manny the same kid that hauled tires up hills in Washington Heights, building his core strength so he could drive the ball 420ft. to the opposite field.

“When he watched his home run off K-Rod in the 2007 post season, arms raised in triumph, we saw that same Manny that we fell in love with. Now that his time has come to move on, for whatever reason, I hope that we do not lose sight of everything he has done for us, and when we speak of him and his time in Boston, I hope we all realize what we owe to him. For the home runs, the laughs, the championships, the intangible sense of excitement that happened every time he came to bat in the late innings at Fenway; we owe him more than to think back fondly on his time here, we owe him our hearts.”

Of course, there were always two sides to the Manny coin, and the the Providence Journal’s Sean McAdam offers this sobering assessment of what the Red Sox ended up having to do to bring the Manny era in Boston to a close:

In order to trade a future Hall of Famer and acquire a player in return, the Red Sox had to agree to pay his remaining salary and include two young players.

That should tell you all you all you need to know about Manny Ramirez’s value around the game and exactly how desperate the Red Sox were to rid themselves of his presence by yesterday’s non-waiver trading deadline.

After 18 hours worth of talks involving the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates proved futile, the Red Sox scrambled to assemble another swap at the 11th hour and finally found a willing partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

General manager Theo Epstein was working with a mandate from within his own clubhouse. Following his team’s dispiriting loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Wednesday night, Epstein met with a handful of Red Sox veterans, all of whom delivered the same message: Manny had to go.

If his antics weren’t directly responsible for the team’s slide – the Sox have lost five of six on the current homestand, their worst stretch of play at Fenway all season – they were certainly serving as a distraction.

Worse, the players feared that if Ramirez remained with the Sox for the remainder of the season, he couldn’t be counted upon in the middle of a pennant race. In their minds, there were no guarantees that Ramirez wouldn’t engage in further petulant displays that could sidetrack the team’s playoff push.

In the past, teammates had advised against just such a deal, reminding management that, whatever his faults, Ramirez’s skill as a run producer were too valuable. But in the last week or so, Ramirez lost the clubhouse and the equation was turned on its head: no matter how good he was as a hitter, it wasn’t enough to outweigh the negatives.

They were tired of answering questions about him, tired of rationalizing his selfish behavior, and frankly, tired of him.

Read the whole thing.

So now it’s back to business for the stumbling Sox. They can’t look or play any worse than they did against the L.A. Angels of Anaheim, and now with manny in La-La Land they certainly have no one else to blame their on-field performances on than themselves.

If they needed a wake-up call, the Ramirez trade certainly took care of that.

Of course, if that doesn’t work, then this wonderful post from Red at Surviving Grady ought to be required reading for everyone on the team. The language is a little harsh, but no one says it better than Red. It’s a scream – literally!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 19:11 | Comments Off on Farewell, Manny
July 30, 2008

I know it’s summer and the beginning of another work week, but can I take a moment of your time this day to speak of two charities that are close to The Great White Shank’s heart?

STOP! Do NOT click away from this post!! I guarantee it won’t cost you anything (unless, of course, the spirit moves you…)

First of all: Project HARAMBEE helps people in sub-Saharan Africa affected by HIV. There’s a number of ways you can help, but we’ve found the best way to help is to donate a goat or chickens for one of the communities there. How does it work? Check out this lovely letter we got from a co-worker of Tracey’s, who is passionately involved with this wonderful organization. Here’s just a piece of her letter (my boldings). It truly is amazing…

Dear Tracey –
Finally, goat news!

I hope these pictures of your goat are satisfactory (yes, she sent us pictures, and yes, we’re talking bonafide goat here). I can tell you that your compassion and generosity have made a tremendous impact on more than one family in Africa. It’s not only the goat and that wonderful rich milk (and now cheese) that are making a difference. The knowledge that total strangers across the ocean care enough to give them something this precious – sight unseen – has given Kenyans something also equally valuable: hope for their children and grandchildren.

Your goat was donated to Nyumbani Village, where 26 grandmothers and one grandfather are living in community together and raising more than 100 of their grandchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS. In the photo (she sent us several) some of the grandmothers are busy weaving baskets from sisal and wool, which they sell. Nyumbani Village was the idea of Father Angelo D’Agostino, a Jesuit priest (gotta love those Jesuits!) who served in Africa for many years, and someone I am blessed to have known as a friend.

The website has more information about this wonderful project and the selfless people who have made it their own special ministry. I invite you to check it out.

Another charity near and dear to my heart is the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, dedicated to treating children with cancer. August is the month of the big WEEI / NESN Jimmy Fund Telethon that supports this wonderful place and the service these incredibly compassionate and dedicated people do day in and day out. As you can see by the link, this event is scheduled for August 14 & 15. I’ve supported the telethon for several years – not with a lot of dough-re-mi, but of course every little bit helps.

I know everyone is cutting back with the cost of gas and everything, but if you have a few extra sheckels in your pocketbook, please consider supporting one or both of these wonderful organizations. Even if you can’t donate, please keep them and their fine work in your thoughts and prayers.

…and now back to our regular programming.

Oh, before I go, here’s the goat we donated to Project HARAMBEE. He (she) doesn’t know it, but we named him (her?) Bill Buckner (get it – goat?) :-):

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:48 | Comments Off on Public Service Announcement
July 29, 2008

“There is a certain kind of humility in hell which is one of the worst things in hell, infinitely far from the humility of the saints, which is peace. This false humility is an unending, burning shame at the inescapable stigma of our sins.

…The anguish of this self-knowledge is inescapable even on earth as long as there is any self-love left in us: because it is pride that feels the burning of that shame. Only when all pride, all self-love, has been consumed in our souls by the love of God are we delivered from the thing which is the subject of these torments. It is only when we have lost all love for ourselves, for our own sakes, that our past sins cease to give us any cause for suffering or the anguish of shame.

For the saints, when they remember their sins, do not dwell upon those sins but the mercy of God, and therefore even past evil is turned by them into a present cause of joy and serves to glorify God.

It is the proud that have to be burned and devoured by the horrible humility of hell… but as long as we are in this life, even that burning anguish can be turned into a grace, and a cause for joy.” — Thomas Merton, “The Seven Storey Mountain”, p. 295

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:13 | Comments Off on Thought For The Day
July 28, 2008

Before I begin let me just state that music (as anyone who follows this blog regularly undoubtedly knows) is very important to me. This is especially so when it comes to music in church, as I look to music to complement the larger worship experience, not dominate or overwhelm it. Just as there are few worse things in my mind than to be in church listening to music done poorly while you and everyone in the congregation shifts uneasily in their seats, likewise, music that is loud and out of place – even when well performed – can be just as much of a turn-off. Now I don’t expect your average everyday Mass or church service to be contemplative in spirit and approach – that’s reserved for monasteries. But when the world around you for the rest of the week is filled with the noise of our work-a-day lives, I don’t expect to find music spelled n-o-i-s-e cluttering up things when I attend church.

As I’ve mentioned in these spaces previously, one of the best things about attending St. Anne Catholic Church (besides it’s nearby locale and convenient 4 PM Saturday Mass time) has been its music. Not only because it was very well done, but – just as importantly – the music complemented what Mass should be all about: worship, humility, praise, and prayer in the sacramental Presence of Our Lord. The music was primarily performed on piano and guitar, with an occasional appearance by a bass player or another guitarist. And it was all done in excellent taste and performance, played loud enough to sing to but not take over the proceedings.

My how things have changed! Three or four weeks ago, the music director left and was replaced by what I can only describe as an obnoxious egomaniacal woman who thinks everything has to be a production, and the Mass saturated with music at every possible opportunity. Not only has the piano and guitar now been augmented with bass, additional guitar and drums, but several choral singers as well. And even though much of the music at Mass is the same from week to week, this woman has to make sure everyone knows the music is under her complete direction: hand waves indicating when the band is to start and stop, and, five minutes before Mass, instruction to the congregation on how the music that day should be sung.

(Note #1: Keep in mind that modern church music – especially the kind played at Catholic masses – hardly requires the vocal equivalent of a Ph.D to sing. Not only is it fairly simplistic, but at most the congreagation only has to sing two verses with chorus. We’re not talking Handel or R. Vaughan Williams here, by any stretch of the imagination.)

(Note #2: And if it were a male music director instead of a woman I’d feel the same way, so please, no sexist accusations.)

To me, it’s all just too much. Even the Psalm of the day, which used to be sung simply and beautifully by a cantor to piano, now gets the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” treatment – choral harmonies and full band participation, including drums. Were it just the processional and recessional that were getting the full band I would have no problem with it, but this woman is so full of herself and determined to turn Mass into her show that it is a complete turn-off. Since I don’t receive communion, I used that time for contemplation to the soft music and meditating upon the priest’s voice repeating over and over, “The Body of Christ”, “The Body of Christ”, “the Body of Christ”… and feeling immersed in holiness and sanctity.

No more. Now communion simply provides this music director more opportunities to show off her and her musicians not-insignificant musical chops. But to me it’s completely out of place and ruins the entire proceedings. I don’t think I’m alone, as I’ve noticed more people heading directly for the doors after they receive communion than is normal. And I can’t blame them – they come for Mass, not a concert and musical onslaught.

So for me it’s adios! to St. Anne Catholic Church. While I wish it weren’t so, it’s not something that devastating – I never considered SACC my spiritual home, but attending Mass there was convenient and the axis around which my weekly prayer life revolved. And I’ll always remember it fondly for being the place where I first began attending Mass regularly – something I thank God for revealing to me in all His Goodness and Mercy. So it looks like I’m church-shopping again. Where I’ll end up is anyone’s guess; we’ll just have to see how it all turns out.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:28 | Comment (1)
July 26, 2008

Aah…the joys of wireless and a high-speed Internet connection (something I pray my parents are discovering for themselves!)….

Blogging backyard and live from the “High Surf Warning Tiki Bar” in Phoenix’s East Valley, it’s The Great White Shank. I just wish we had a camera so Tracey could take a picture. Hard to believe this is the first time I’ve blogged from the Tiki Bar. A cup of steaming joe next to me and mercifully protected by the shade of a thatched roof above, I could be blogging from the most remote part of deepest, darkest Micronesia…. well, except for the neighbors’ houses all around me, the whooshing of airliners on approach above, and the swimming pool vaccuum chattering away happily in the background… but you get the picture. I oughta try working from here one of these days.

It is hot this morning – H-O-T hot. Taking my weekly walk about the property, coffee in hand, I couldn’t believe just how searing the sun felt on the skin – and this was only a little after 9 AM. What little breeze there was stirring the leaves of the whatever-the-heck-you-call them trees (one of these days, I ought to find out the names of all the trees and bushes we have on our property) made no difference. There’s a bit of humidity in the air today, but unfortunately it it now looks as if the moisture from what-was-once Hurricane Dolly is going to stay to the east over New Mexico.

For a Saturday morning, it is really quiet around here. You would think with the houses around us in such close proximity – the house on the other side of the wall in front of me is no more than 80 feet away, and I can see the roofs of eight houses from my Tiki Bar perch – you’d think you’d hear something, anything to make you think you’re not the only human left in this subdivision, but there’s nothing. I’ve always said summer in the Valley of the Sun is just like the dead of winter back home in New England, and it’s true. Only loons go outside in this heat, only stupid loons go outside to blog.

The neighbors next to us who had their house up for sale either took their house of the market or sold it within two weeks’ time. I doubt it’s the latter, but you never know. What’s strange about them (and everyone who lives on our street, for that matter) is that you never see them, just signs of people activity from time to time. Take this week for example: next week is bulk trash week, so two days ago there was some broken white-painted shelving left on my neighbor’s curb. Yesterday, there was an old desk lying atop the shelving. This morning I see some more junk on top of the desk on top of the shelving. Tomorrow I have no doubt this faux monument to human refuse will be further adorned with additional contributions representing the broken, discarded, and unwanted.

This is time of year where the flora and fauna is making its greatest statement on the beauty of Southwestern desert landscape. Our Texas Sage is out big-time this week – their delicate purple and white flowers are covered with bees of all kinds. Most of them are kinda tiny and brown, but every once in a while this gigantic black bee only a tad smaller than a Hummer H2 sounding like a flying lawnmower comes noisily by. He’s big. He’s bad. But he seems to care little about the human presence nearby. Our lantana bushes are bright yellow and orange, but for some reason they never attract bees. There’s also this orange leafy kind of thing that just only a few weeks ago was tiny and scrawny – now it’s gotten four feet tall and so thick that you can no longer see the phony pink flamingos under the real palm trees.

I’ve only been out here for around twenty minutes, and that plane on approach above me is like the twelfth one thus far. And a helicoper just went overhead, followed by a prop plane. The skies are busy thus morning. …and here comes another plane. Aah the joys of living under a Sky Harbor Airport flight path!

I can’t watch the Red Sox when they play the Yankees – it’s just too frustrating for me, especially when the Sox lose like they did last night. But I will say this – that called third strike on Mike Lowell in the 9th inning last night was the worst strike call I have ever seen made by an umpire; whoever that was should really be called on the carpet for that. And J.D. Drew keeping the bat on his shoulder while the Fruitbat poured strike after strike across the plate really got me to swearing. (I had to include a confession of sin to my morning players because of this, but the blame should go squarely on J.D.’s shoulders – just where his bat probably still sits this morning.)

…And everyone knows Manny Ramirez sat out last night’s game not because of his knees but to make a statement to management over his contract. To me this was the last straw – I’m sick of Manny’s act and I can only hope Sox management feels the same. It’s no coincidence that Manny chose this latest aggravation just days before the July 31 trading deadline. I don’t see how the Sox can move him with that contract, but they ought to at least suspend and fine him. There’s simply no excuse him sitting out the biggest game of the year.

Well, I’m off to take a quick warm dip in the pool before errands. Today it’s 1) stop by the pool supply place to have my water checked and hear for the nth time that the pool needs chlorine; 2) a stop by Omaha Steaks to re-stock our freezer; and 3) a trip to Hi’s Silk Flowers to price some phony palms to replace the real flowers I planted in our patio pots back in May but get either too much sun and heat in the afternoon or not enough sun in the morning to thrive. Later on it’ll be Mass and, after supper, perhaps a dip or two in the pool once the day “cools” off. Perhaps by then we might see a thunderstorm – that would be nice.

Today is the Feast of the Parents of the Virgin Mary. Hard to believe July is just about over with – the year is flying by incredibly fast. Where does the time go?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:30 | Comments Off on Tiki Bar Blogging
July 24, 2008

The best thing about having a pool in your backyard with 8 ft. walls all around is the wonderful freedom of going swimming at night (or at any other time, for that matter) without having to wear a bathing suit. Like tonight, for instance – the outside temperature even at 10 PM is still 100 degrees, the sky above is cloud-filled, the water temperature is 94 degrees, and everything is bathed in shadows of gray and brown. There’s a slight breeze from the southeast rustling the palms; tonight they’re the only sound. Well, except for our wind chimes a-tinklein’. Kinda strange that everyone’s A/C units aren’t humming away, but I figure that’s because the clouds came in late this afternoon to temper the blistering July heat. Nevertheless, strange to walk out on the patio at this hour and still feel the heat of the surface on your feet.

A side note: this past wekend the Goodboys played in some of the most oppressive conditions I’ve ever played golf in, but as humid as it was, to me it still didn’t compare to the sheer blazing heat you get in Arizona this time of year. People can talk about “dry heat” all they want, but until you walk out in 107-degree heat in a mid-afternoon with the sun beating down upon your skin you just can’t appreciate what raw desert heat feels like.

But I digress.

So here I am, lollying around in the pool and it’s truly amazing just how quiet the surrounding are. In this subdivision, you can sit on the patio and see at least eight houses; nevertheless, I’m still amazed at just how quiet the nights are around here. I can’t speak for the houses out our back, but I do know that the houses on our sides and front are all occupied, so I doubt it’s like some of the towns to our south and east where builders built entire subdivisions that are now empty except for one or two families that have decided to gut out the housing slump.

But I digress. Again.

Thoughts flit in and out of my mind while I’m floating. Tonight I’m thinking all sorts of crazy things – like how Olivia Newton-John had to have been a huge George Harrison “All Things Must Pass” fan, since she recorded the songs “What Is Life” and If Not For You” (the latter her first big hit) from that album. She gives both a good try, but I have to say, it’s hard to listen to Olivia’s renditions next to George’s originals – quite a difference in substance there, if you know what I mean. Course, she was a heckuva lot easier on the eyes than George ever was…

I’m also thinking about the Goodboys this past weekend encouraging me to upgrade my current decades-old CD player with a MP3 player. Like they were saying, why limit myself to five or six surf music CDs when I can have literally a thousand surf tunes to shuffle through on an weekend day? But then I start looking at all the software available to help people organize their MP3 collection and I start getting the heebie-geebies. I don’t know…. I’m really not a techno-junkie.

Back to “All Things Must Pass” for a second – I remember this post from way back when I first started this weblog. Considering I wrote this before my spritual re-awakening of the past year, all I can say is the Holy Spirit had to have been planting seeds I simply could not foresee at that time working the harvest with. But that’s why they say that, no matter how hopeless and daunting things might seem, with God all things are possible. When I wrote that post, I was absolute choked by the darkness surrounding me. I remember it, and believe me – it was real. And something I’d rather not experience again. God be praised.

We paid off another credit card today. Five down, four to go. Talk about painful! But like Dave Ramsey says, it takes twice as long to get out of the debt you put yourself into.

The rabbits are also on my mind tonight, those buggers. Our baby rabbit Peanut is, frankly, a bitch. Not in a bad way (well, at least not totally), but in a mischievous way, for sure. The other day she got loose and wrangled her way inside our couch – from underneath! That’s right, she somehow ripped the cloth under the couch and hopped up inside. Took us an hour to figure out where she had hidden herself. Rabbits sure like out of the way places – but that’s what you have to expect with prey animals. You gotta laugh…

The clouds are moving kinda fast tonight from the southeast to northwest. Word is, there’s a chance we get some moisture from the remnants of what was once Hurricane Dolly this weekend. That would be cool. Anytime you can get rain this time of year out here, that’s a good thing.

A shout out to my friends Jerome and Paul tonight – for some reason you’re on my mind.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:31 | Comment (1)
July 23, 2008

…So there I was, nursing a Sam Adams at the Chili’s at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, waiting for my flight to Phoenix. It was only mid-morning, but I had been up since 3 AM so I could catch my 6 AM flight out of Boston so it felt like past noon – it’s five o’ clock somewhere, right? Even though the bar was noisy, filled with a bunch of corporate big-wigs excitedly anticipating some Vegas convention they were all heading to, my thoughts were focused on the past week and my visit back east – a rather hectic one filled with hurrying and scurrying around, chasing after wireless connectivity for my parents’ PC in their new apartment and my own stray golf balls on the Cape. Neither of which, upon reflection, I seemed to have performed with a fair amount of charity and good humor.

What bothered me was the fact that, having committing myself to a return to a more disciplined prayer life, I couldn’t remain spiritually focused when not doing spiritual things. Or, at least turning what might have appeared (at least on the surface) to be non-spiritual things into spiritual things for the glory of God. After all, what good is a spiritual life if it is lived under a bushel basket, and not on a lamp post for others to see? It’s easy to be quiet and contemplative in one’s daily offices, quite another when one is out there in the crazy world we live in these days.

And when I got right down to it, what I realized was bothering me was my own inner frustration at attempting to live a life completely out of balance between the spiritual, social, and professional lives I was somehow trying to reconcile between themselves – working 12 hour days, trying to leave time for Tracey and the rabbits, my blogging, a bit of Red Sox or the Fox Business Channel, and, on the weekends, working in church, housework, some surf music listening, and various errands. All the while trying to turn each of these into some kind of Brother Lawrence / practicing the prayer of God kind of thing. And my frustration at the vast difference between where I long to be, and how I long to live spiritually, and where I actually am. Were I more mature spiritually this kind of thing wouldn’t manifest itself in frustration, but rather a kind of inner joy. But I’m not, so I guess it does. Frustration within leads to frustration without.

I was thinking about these things while flipping through Henri Nouwen’s wonderful book “The Road To Daybreak”, his journal of a year’s time spent between leaving a faculty position at Harvard Divinity School and taking a position as a priest-in-residence at Daybreak, a L’Arche community for mentally handicapped people in Toronto, when I came upon a particular entry in his diary. And I realized this was not just one of many poignant and deeply personal entries contained in that book, but a mirror image of myself staring back at me. Contemplating the Gospel lesson of that day, Nouwen had written:

“…The rich young man loved Jesus but couldn’t give up his wealth to follow him. Nicodemus admired Jesus but was afraid to lose the respect of his own colleagues. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking at these fearful sympathizers because that is the group I find myself mostly gravitating toward.

I love Jesus but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus but want to hold on to my own independence even when that independence brings me no real freedom. I love Jesus but do not want to lose the respect of my professional colleagues, even though I know that their respect does not make me grow spiritually. I love Jesus but do not want to give up my writing plans, travel plans, and speaking plans, even when those plans are often more to my glory than to the glory of God.

So I am like Nicodemus, who came by night, said safe things about Jesus to his colleagues, and expressed his guilt by bringing to the grave more myrrh and aloes than needed or required.” — The Road To Daybreak, pp. 147-8

“So I am like Nicodemus…”. Boy, not only did Nouwen have himself pegged at that point in his life, but at me in mine. Heck, I could have written virtually the same damned thing. Nouwen was writing out of the frustration that arises from the tension existing between God calling you to a specific place (figuratively speaking) in your life, and your resistance to that calling. Perhaps in my case there’s a little bit of self-preservation going on there – after all, I once thought God was calling me to the priesthood but I didn’t handle that calling very well. And now, not knowing exactly what that particular calling might be, I want God to show me His cards before I’m willing to lay down my own. But that’s not the way the way of the Cross works, and certainly not the way God reveals Himself to undisciplined, impatient, and spiritually immature clowns like me.

So this is yet another challenge, another self-awareness kind of test God is laying before my feet. Another fork in the road where I am being asked to choose a direction – one that involves greater faith and trust in God, or one that doesn’t. The stakes couldn’t be higher. As Nouwen asked in closing out his entry that day:

“Can I stay a Pharisee and follow Jesus too? Doesn’t that condemn me to bringing costly spices to the grave when it is too late?”

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 18:14 | Comments Off on Goodboy Nicodemus
July 21, 2008

Headline: It’s A Doggy Life: An Im’possum’able Team Triumph at the 18th Goodboys Invitational

Brewster, MA (UPI) It wasn’t supposed to go like this: A team comprising one Goodboy just weeks away from back surgery and another who hadn’t touched a club in nearly a year, riding a two-day wave of clutch putts, hit fairways, and unbelievable chip-ins to triumph over the rest of field. But that’s exactly what Pat “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin and Paul “Possum” Shepter did this past weekend at the 18th annual Goodboys Invitational held at steamy and sultry The Captains C.C. in Brewster, MA.

“I want to thank my partner for his wonderful play these past two days, and I especially want to thank my back for hanging in there”, proclaimed a tired but triumphant “Doggy Duval” as he held aloft the hallowed Spielberg Memorial Trophy wearing his red-checkered champions retro polyester tweed jacket. “The prize money [$50] will not only help cover my co-pay for the back surgery, but I’ll still have money left for a taco at Jack-In-The-Box!” McLaughlin’s victory was his fourth overall Goodboys championship – one he felt was long in coming. “It’s been quite a few years since I’ve won, and that makes this one all the more sweeter.”

McLaughlin’s partner, “Possum” Shepter, a little more subdued, chose to bask in the triumph of his victory by relaxing with reporters on The Captains’ veranda after the awards ceremony. Nursing a Diet Coke and V8, he explained his approach to the weekend’s matches: “It was really just keep it in play and not try to do too much… “Vegas” [Goodboy Mike Clark] taught me this cool flop-shot and I found myself using it often and leaving me with fairly short putts throughout the weekend. I have to say, this victory is very satisfying.”

For Shepter, it was his second Goodboys Invitational championship.

For the rest of the Goodboys it was a weekend of “woulda-coulda-shouldas” and opportunities lost. Finishing in second place was the team of Mike “Vegas” Clark and Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis, who, while staying close throughout the front nine on Sunday, could not keep up with the steady and consistent play of the winners. “We just ran out of gas and ran out of holes”, explained a disappointed “The Funny Guy”.

The team of Steve “Killer” Kowalski and Kevin “Goose” Dwyer finished third, continuing Goose’s long drought of Goodboys championships; he retains the title of “Best Goodboy To Have Never Won A Goodboys Championship”.

Finishing a distant last was the team of Doug “The Great White Shank” Richard and Ron “Cubby” Myerow, who dug for themselves a significant hole by a poor Saturday and never got any traction thereafter. “A poor showing”, explained TGWS to reporters afterwards, “we started bad and stayed bad throughout. No excuses.” For “Cubby”, however, there was a silver lining: “Shooting that 50 on the back nine made me feel really good. Unfortunately, by then the horses had not just left the barn, they were already on their way from the glue factory to hardware stores everywhere.”

In the individual competitions, “Possum” Shepter took home an authentic golf towel from Augusta National for his lowest score against handicap, while “The Great White Shank”, for the highest score against handicap, won the book, “Naked On The First Tee – A Beginner’s Guide For Women Golfers”.

All in all, a good time was had by all, and plans are already underway for the 19th Annual Goodboys Invitational to be held in July of 2009 back on the Cape at a location(s) to be determined.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 18:04 | Comment (1)
July 18, 2008

With the 18th annual Goodboys Invitational weekend upon us, long-time Goodboys observer and historian Gaylord Pellrine offers up this song-poem to the Goodboys:

July is here are you ready for some groovin’
It’s Goodboys time better get the fellas movin’
From North Shore to South Shore and eastward from Bourne
The Goodboys will gather on this Saturday morn

So let’s go
Let’s go, time to make the Goodboys scene

Drive your ball, keep away from the trees
Who’s gonna clean up on all the Par 3s?
Humilation bets and bunny hops
If you wanna be champs better pull out all stops

So let’s go
Let’s go, time to make the Goodboys scene

Gonna grab some breakfast, gonna leave at eight
Our tee times are waiting we don’t wanna be late, hey hey
We’re all checked out and on our way
Go to Harry’s at night after golfing all day, hey hey
Time to make the Goodboys scene

The sandtraps are brown and the fairways are green
Been waiting all year to make the Goodboys scene
When the weekend’s over go our separate ways
With memories to warm us on the cold winter days

So let’s go
Let’s go, time to make the Goodboys scene
Let’s go, time to make the Goodboys scene

Ahh yes, Goodboys Invitational weekend has arrived! I’ll be catching you on the flip side with all the gory details. See y’all next week!

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:02 | Comments Off on Goodboys Scene
July 17, 2008

Since this post from last week, I discovered I still had some room on one of my surf CD mixes to add another 25 minutes of music. But where to find some more good stuff? As I mentioned in this post, a browse through Napster led me to a fine band called The Surf Zombies. Then, my Top Priority pal “Keys” Palma clued me in about another surf band, The Aqua Velvets – check out their positively dreamy tune “Slow Dance With A Fast Girl” off their “Guitar Noir” CD; it just doesn’t get a whole lot better than that! And Voila!, what was already a totally bitchin’ collection of great surf music has become even better.

So here is an updated list of the music on my discs for anyone who might be interested. Insert the five discs into a player, hit “All Discs” / “Shuffle”, and be prepared for a launch into surf heaven!

Disc 1: “Hang Ten Surf Mix”

1. Summer’s Gone – The Sandals
2. (Theme From) The Endless Summer – The Sandals
3. Scrambler – The Sandals
4. 6-Pak – The Sandals
5. Driftin’ – The Sandals
6. Good Greeves – The Sandals
7. Decoy – The Sandals
8. Out Front (2000) – The Sandals
9. Wild As The Sea – The Sandals
10. Trailing – The Sandals
11. Jet Black (2000) – The Sandals
12. Lonely Road – The Sandals
13. TR-6 (2000) – The Sandals
14. School’s Out – The Sandals
15. Winter Spell – The Sandals
16. Agunus Night – The Sandals
17. Yellow Night – The Sandals
18. Soul Something – The Sandals
19. Submarina – The Surf Zombies
20. Side Slippin’ – The Diamond Heads
21. Torque Wrench – The Nebulas
22. Bawunga Bob – The Brainwashers
23. Dented Fender – The Diamond Heads
24. Media Nocturne – Von Rippers
25. Last Ride – The Cocktail Preachers
26. Warmth Of The Sun – The Beach Boys
27. Surfer Girl – The Beach Boys
28. Catch A Wave – The Beach Boys
29. The Rocking Surfer – The Beach Boys
30. Boogie Woodie – The Beach Boys
31. T-16 – The Nebulas
32. Spanish Fly – Ralph Rebel

Disc 2: “Surf And Turf Surf Mix”

1. Surfin’ Safari – The Beach Boys
2. The Surfer Moon – The Beach Boys
3. Your Summer Dream – The Beach Boys
4. Girls On The Beach – The Beach Boys
5. Do It Again – The Beach Boys
6. Flamenco Surf – The Sharkskins
7. The Mild Bunch Rides Again – The Sharkskins
8. Sleep Walk – Eddie Montana’s Seal Beach Band
9. Gridiron Goodie – The Super Stocks
10. Lanky Bones – Eddie & The Showmen
11. Faraway Places – Eddie & The Showmen
12. Surf Man – Richie Allen & The Pacific Surfers
13. The Wedge – Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
14. Surf Beat – Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
15. Mr. Eliminator – Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
16. Peter Gunn – Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
17. The Wet Set – The Metalunas
18. Dr. Yes – The Retroliners
19. University Blvd. – Los Straightjackets
20. Morpheus – The Surf Kings
21. The Tower – The Surf Kings
22. Floating – Laika & The Cosmonauts
23. (Theme From) Hawaii Five-O – The Ventures
24. Walk, Don’t Run – The Ventures
25. Perfidia – The Ventures
26. Rumble In The Stratosphere 2002 – The Retroliners
27. Sand Pumper – The Brainwashers
28. Moonshot Part 3 – Mighty Surf Lords
29. Surf Nouveau – The Aqua Velvets
30. Slow Dance With A Fast Girl – The Aqua Velvets
31. Subterranea – The Aqua Velvets

Disc 3: “The Sandals and The Super Stocks”

(From The Sandals’ “The Spirit Of Surf” CD):

1. (Theme From) The Endless Summer
2. Wingnut’s Theme
3. Mexico
4. Pleasure Point
5. August Rain
6. La Madre
7. Ooh La La
8. Wingnut’s Theme (Slow Version)
9. Summer Breeze
10. Sax On The Beach
11. Mundacca
12. Untitled Demo

(From The Super Stocks [Featuring Gary Usher] “Surf Route 101″ CD):

13. Surf Route 101
14. Muscle Beach Party
15. Ventura
16. Santa Barbara
17. Redondo Beach
18. Surfin’ Scene
19. Balboa Island
20. Oceanside
21. My First Love
22. Midnight Run
23. Malibu Blues
24. Newport Beach
25. Santa Barbara (Alt. mix)
26. Untitled Demo
27. Coffin Nails
28. Beat ‘65
29. Free Fall
30 – 32. Untiitled Demos

Disc 4: “Endless Summer Surf Mix”

1. Tarantula – The Aqualads
2. Creeper – The Aqualads
3. Curse – The Aqualads
4. Folly Beach – The Aqualads
5. Oasis – The Aqualads
6. Pier #9 – The Aqualads
7. Rodeo Gals – The Aqualads
8. Speedshifter – The Aqualads
9. Surf! Surf! Surf! – The Aqualads
10. The Dog – The Aqualads
11. Lonely Road (2000)- The Sandals
12. Outer Wave – The Sandals
13. Route 1 – The Sandals
14. Wild As The Sea (2000) – The Sandals
15. (Theme From) The Endless Summer (2000) – The Sandals
16. 6-Pak (2000) – The Sandals
17. Decoy (2000) – The Sandals
18. Driftin’ (2000) – The Sandals
19. They Feed At Night – The Surf Zombies
20. 289 To Ape City – The Surf Zombies
21. Garage Jam – The Surf Zombies
22. Pretty Daddy – The Surf Zombies
23. Primitive E – The Surf Zombies
24. Sea Snake – The Surf Zombies
25. Seaside Heights – The Surf Zombies
26. Skullaballo – The Surf Zombies
27. The Is – The Surf Zombies

Disc 5: “Toes On The Nose Surf Mix”

1. Foolin’ Around Playa del Ray – The Bitch Boys
2. Did You Bring Your Brass Knuckles? – The Bitch Boys
3. Voodoo Juice – The Ghouls
4. The Quiet Surf – Richie Allen & The Pacific Surfers
5. Movin’ – Eddie & The Showmen
6. Moon Probe – The Vulcanes
7. Casbah – Sandy Nelson
8. Ride The Wild Surf – Jan & Dean
9. Wipe Out – The Surfaris
10. Pipeline – The Chantays
11. Misirlou – Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
12. Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen
13. Out Of Limits – The Marketts
14. Surf Rider – The Lively Ones
15. Surf City – Jan & Dean
16. Penetration – The Pyramids
17. Let’s Go Trippin’ – Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
18. Surfer Joe – The Surfaris
19. Mr. Moto – The Belairs
20. Boss – The Rumblers
21. Surfer’s Stomp – The Marketts
22. The Lonely Surfer – Jack Nitzsche
23. Mexico – The Sandals
24. Lonely Sea – The Beach Boys
25. Legends – The Ho-Dads
26. The Last Walk – The Super Stocks
27. Surfin’ – The Beach Boys (”Summer In Paradise” CD)
28. Still Surfin’ – The Beach Boys
29. Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
30. Surf Route 101 – The Super Stocks

During his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Jimi Hendrix said, “You will never hear surf music again”.

Jimi was wrong. Surf’s up!!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:52 | Comment (1)


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