August 23, 2010

There’s something both precious and timeless about watching baseball played at Fenway Park when late August and September come around that I’ve always loved. Whether it be from Massachusetts, Kentucky, or Arizona, you can always count on afternoon baseball being played amidst ever-lengthening shadows that encroach the field, first enveloping the right field stands, then the infield, then the pitcher’s mound, then finally the batter’s box area as the sun’s angle tells you that neither the baseball season nor you are as young and fresh and full of promise as you were just six short months ago. The season is coming down to the last month, the days and the number of games dwindling to dozens, and the marathon slowly becomes a sprint to the finish.

It’s during this time of year – if you’re a Red Sox fan, that is – that as much attention must be paid to the out-of-town scoreboard (isn’t that a lovely baseball phrase?) as to the game being played in front of you, for the last full week of August finds the Red Sox in a rather precarious position: 6 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees, and 5 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and that precious wild card slot. It’s especially precarious because right the Sox have little margin for error – time is not on their side – and, while neither the Yankees nor the Rays are showing any kind of dominance, the standings have pretty much been the same for a while now.

While Nick Carfardo is right – you can’t count the Sox out yet, especially in a year where there are no dominant teams, in either league – the fact of the matter is, the Sox simply cannot lose any more ground; in fact, they need to start making up some ground by putting a meaningful winning streak together, if only to get the Yankees and Rays to start paying attention to their rear-view mirrors. For better or for worse, if the Sox are to accomplish this, they’re going to have to do it with the odd mix of replacements and youngsters they’ve gone with all year – infielder Bill Hall, outfielder Darnell McDonald, and, since mid-July, veteran Mike Lowell and youngsters like pitcher Felix Doubront and outfielder Ryan Kalish, both of which have provided more than a few sparks of promise. There’s no way the Sox can replace the loss of on-field leaders Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury – all of which are lost for the rest of the year – they’re just going to have to make do.

I’ve been pretty hard on the Sox this year for the lack of excitement the product they’ve put out, both on the field and off (is it just me, or has long-time fan favorite Jerry Remy really lost it as an informative and entertaining color analyst beside Don Orsillo?), but the fact is, they haven’t warranted the attention they have in past years. The games drone on, sometimes interminably, without any real passion or excitement anywhere. Nevertheless, if you look beneath the surface, getting the Kalishes, Dubronts, (infielder Jeff) Lowries, and (pitcher Michael) Bowdens big-league experience in a pennant race like this is going to pay dividends down the line (if not this off-season), so all a fan can do is watch and see how close they can get.

The important thing this year, more than any other year in recent memory, is to get to the playoffs any which way you can. Without any dominant teams, the team that can get in and get hot at the same time has a damned good chance at becoming World Series champion. In these next five weeks, we’ll see if the Sox can bring some excitement to, what has been at least to this point, a rather dull and colorless season.

Pool temp: 92 gegrees

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:10 | Comments (0)
August 22, 2010

cookiebunny

Not one of ours, but pretty cute nevertheless! Courtesy of Imageshack

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:47 | Comments (0)
August 21, 2010

Man, it’s hot. I mean, convection oven hot. Blast furnace hot.

I know, I know, that’s life in Arizona – as the saying goes, you don’t live in Arizona for the summers. You expect it, this time of year, the blazing heat, the shimmering blue skies burning above, the monsoon season when it’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity. You plan for it every April when you call the A/C guy to come out and inspect your system. I get it.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t tire of it. Last night, in that special place between waking and sleeping, when your brain starts thinking all crazy sorts of things, I was thinking of January in New England, the winter coats and boots, the bundling up just to go outside to get the car started, the bleak landscape of snow, bare trees, and unforgiving clear skies, the chill factor, the crunching of boots on the sidewalk, the breath coming from your mouth, the redness of your ears and cheeks after being outside. Pushing a grocery cart through a half-plowed parking lot of slush and ice out to get to your car.

And for that moment, I was in heaven.

I was never one who hated the winters as much as some. And, to be brutally honest, winter in New England is great for a day or two, but you tire of it easily. Were I living in New England this January, all I’d be thinking about is cool nights on the patio by the tiki bar under the pineapple lights in shirt sleeves, nursing a Pinot Grigio, and gazing out at the green grass and flowering bougainvillea in my back yard.

But there remains something precious about the cold and the winter. So, thinking about that moment between my being awake and sleeping, here’s a gorgeous Carl Wilson vocal from the Beach Boys’ 1979 “L.A. Light Album” to cool you off. Enjoy!

Pool temp: 92 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comments (2)
August 20, 2010

bush-missmeyet Yes I do. I need to find another station to wake up to, but I like waking up to classical music, OK?

I’ll tell you, the leftists at NPR are so damned predictable. Had John McCain been elected President, today’s discouraging news on the job numbers would have been introduced with something like the following:

“His job approval numbers plummeting in the polls, President McCain this morning was greeted with the news that new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to a nine-month high last week, dealing yet another setback to the nation’s economic recovery and his failed economic policies. This not only confirms experts’ views that the President’s tepid attempts to turn the economy around have failed, but also call into question his ability to govern, given his advanced age.”

With St. Barack in office, we heard about the floods in Pakistan, the U.S. getting out of Iraq, Jennifer Aniston wanting another baby, and, oh, by the way, just seconds before signoff…

“New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to a nine-month high last week, yet another setback to the frail economic recovery. This is NPR.”

Lemme tell you, I was never much of a George W. Bush (or, for that matter, a Bill Clinton) fan, but compared to this adult adolescent, this socialist, this clueless clown, this Manchurian candidate, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, respectively.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. At least with W and Bill you felt like they understood what being President meant or signified (i.e., being something bigger then them), and (at least in public) acted, y’know, presidential. Now I don’t know exactly what being “presidential” means – I guess it’s like pornography, you can’t define it but you sure know it when you see it. What I see from President Obama is a self-righteous, self-absorbed, arrogant narcissist who loves being President but doesn’t want the responsibilities that go along with it. I see someone totally in over his head, someone who has been told his whole life that his you-know-what doesn’t stink, and how he’s God’s gift to creation.

Well, just like in Greek mythology, even the gods fall. And the bigger they are the harder they fall. I’m with the American Thinker on this, Barack Obama’s best days are behind him, his presidency doomed to the worst of failures. And why? Because doesn’t understand the office or the role of the President – never did, nor was he ever qualified to be President to begin with. Oh, I’m not talking about him not being a natural-born American citizen (which I’ll bet he’s not), I’m talking about the fact that people actually expected someone who had never run so much as a lemonade stand in his life to somehow become a respected leader of peoples.

If he was a more likeable fellow, I’d actually feel sorry for him. But he’s not, so I don’t.

It’s awful to feel this way about your President. But this guy in my mind doesn’t deserve the office or the respect that comes with it. He’s not only lacking in ability, but more important, he’s lacking in those things Americans look for in presidents: class and grace. What’s worse is that it’s not just him holding the keys to power, it’s Nancy Pelosi (who wants to investigate those opposed to the Ground Zero mosque) and Harry Reid (who insults Hispanics who dare align themselves with Republicans or conservatives) as well. Together, they are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the offices they were elected to.

Enjoy the Cape, Mr. President.

Pool temp: 92 degrees

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:26 | Comments (0)
August 19, 2010

I’ve been so wanting to post something on the controversy around that attempt to build a 15-story, multi-use mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks, but work is very, very crazy this week.

The only thing I’ll offer up in my own humble opinion is that, for all the talk of Muslims wanting Americans to be more sensitive and accepting of Islam in our historically-ordered Judeo-Christian society, there seems precious little sensitivity toward setting a mosque near a site where body parts are still being found nearly a decade later. No one is questioning the right of the imams to place their mosque there – that’s a local question – but whether it’s the right thing to do is where the rubber hits the road.

This isn’t a question about politics, it’s a matter of this country’s heart, mind, and spirit. Ground Zero is hallowed ground where Muslims, Christians, Jews, and non-believers all perished in the most horrifying of ways. To put a mosque at that site is not only ill-conceived and ill-advised, it shows an astounding lack of sensitivity and grace – not that either of these are in great supply these days in this culture we inhabit.

Same thing with President Obama’s horrendous “Recovery Summer” that not only hasn’t featured any kind of recovery, but is going down as the worst three months of dude’s Presidency. He’s catching fire from the Left because of Afghanistan and his tepid response to the BP spill, he’s catching flack from the Right for ObamaCare, a spiralling deficit, his war on Arizona, and a federal government completely out of control, and Independents are deserting him in droves. His poll numbers are in a death spiral, and the November mid-terms are looking worse for the Democrats with each passing day. Yet with all this, “Mr. HopenChange” moves to the beat of his own Alinsky socialist marching band and heads off on yet another vacation.

I dunno, I suppose I could wonder how someone who could ran such a fantastic campaign to get elected could be such a poor President and an even worse leader of a nation. Oh wait, I’ve already posted about why that is. But no one listens to The Great White Shank. Sometimes not even The Great White Shank.

Pool temp: 93 degrees

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:15 | Comment (1)
August 18, 2010

The countdown is on: three weeks from today I’ll be having my cancer-touched prostate removed via a procedure called a Radical Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Already I’m starting to freak out a bit – after all, I’ve never had surgery or been under anesthetic before. But that’s not all – you start receiving calls and mail that you normally wouldn’t dream of seeing. I’m talking letters – letters from my urologist’s secretary laying out all the appointments I have between now and then, a letter from the surgical assistant introducing himself and the role he will play in all this (I never knew there were such a thing), letters from my insurance company, a letter from my primary care physician, and a letter from the MRI place reminding me of my appointment with them. Almost makes you long for credit card bills.

It promises to be a fun-packed three weeks, I’ll tell you. Today was my consult with my primary care guy, who approved my final blood work and did the required chest X-ray (don’t know why that was needed, and I sure wasn’t going to ask why). Next Monday is the MRI of my prostate – another invasion of my backside, which, I’m assured, will be nothing like the insanity of the prostate biopsy procedure I had a few months back. Right. Nevertheless, it’s yet another another self-administered enema prior to foreign invasion. This is supposedly required so my urologist has a clear picture of where the robot is supposed to cut and snip during the surgery.

I’m all for that.

Two weeks from today is the final consult with my urologist, where, I don’t know, we’ll discuss the weather and how the Sox are doing, I suppose. Then a week later, on September 8, it’s gettin’ the job done day. After that, who knows?

I’ve heard all kinds of stories from people who have known others who have had this kind of surgery. Some have tolerated it better than others, some not so much. Me, all I really want to do is attend to my prayers, enjoy what’s left of the monsoon season, maybe try to get a couple more signatures on my “The Endless Summer” poster. But it’s hard to do all these things with any kind of verve and gusto with this thing looming. Y’all may not want to be a part of it, but I’ll be blogging on it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. At least you don’t have to worry about pictures or gross graphic descriptions. I won’t submit you to that.

And please don’t think I’m feeling sorry for myself, because I’m not. For one thing, it’s not unusual – my primary care guy was telling me today his neighbor is having the same operation (unlike me, the poor bugger had a PSA of only 1.0, but he was found to have a cancerous nodule found after a suspicious physical exam). Second of all, I know there are those far, far worse off than me. Want a reality check? It just so happens this week is the annual WEEI Radio/Jimmy Fund Radiothon to raise money for the wonderful work the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston does for children and young adults battling far worse and life-threatening cancers than I have. Those are the ones who have it real tough.

If you frequent and enjoy this blog, would you consider donating on behalf of The Great White Shank? You’d have my most profound appreciation and thanks.

Anyways, it just shows just how fast things can change. Saturday, I’m hob-nobbbing with legends of the California surf culture and toasting margaritas on the shores of the Pacific; Tuesday, I’m sitting in a johnny having my primary care physician guy poking and prodding me for surgery prep. But that’s life and why it’s important, I guess, to just go with the flow – live the good times to the fullest, tolerate the not-so-good.

Pool temp: 92 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:55 | Comments (0)
August 17, 2010

This is what your average “The Endless Summer” movie poster looks like in its entirety. Below is what the top portion looks like on mine, autographed. Sure, it may not mean a whole lot to you, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder:

img00052-20100817-1343

That’s Mike Hynson’s on the left, director Bruce Brown’s in the center, and Robert August on the right. Already that’s a great poster; next we’ll look into perhaps getting a few of The Sandals (the band who provided the theme and most of the music to the film) to sign as well. Don’t know how possible that will be, stay tuned:

Pool temp: 92 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:04 | Comments (0)
August 16, 2010

Our visit to the ASR Surf/Skate Lifestyle/Fashion Expo at the San Diego Convention Center was an amazing experience for Tracey and me. First of all, it confirmed every preconception I might have had that surfing and surf culture is not just a truly unique sub-culture in moderrn American life, but an alive and thriving cottage industry where everyone seems to know everyone, or at least knows someone who knows someone in the industry. The surfing industry is one you cannot fake your way into and last for long in – there’s so much “inside baseball” being played that the less-than authentics will be discovered very soon, and the news will get around before they knew what hit them.

The expo itself was really something – there must have been at least 60-70 surfboard manufacturers showing off their wares, as well as vendors associated with anything and everything to do with surfing and skateboarding. There were live demos of surfboards being created out of fiberglass, art work, musical instruments, exhibitions detailing the history of surfing on the west coast, and panel discussions on the state of the industry. Perhaps what brought about the positive vibe that filled the exposition hall was the diverse crowd the event attracted – teenagers, families, adults, California chicks with tattoos – it was as much fun people watching as it was visiting the booths to see who was selling what.

We almost didn’t make our connection with Mike Hynson to buy his book and get my “The Endless Summer” movie poster autographed. We walked around the entire hall and saw no booth for Hynson surfboards. Then, when we walked to front and saw the list of all the exhibitors, his name was nowhere to be found – no Hynson anywhere, not even a Mike. Figuring something must have happened and that we had made the drive to San Diego for nothing (I’ll admit I was feeling mighty disappointed), we started walking aimlessly back through the exhibits.

All of a sudden, at the very same time, we happened to see a copy of Mike’s book sitting on a low table at the Bessell Surfboards booth along with some assorted business cards. And it was then we met Tim Bessell, who, apparently, is a legend in the surfing industry – one look at his website will tell you all you need to know about why that is. Seems that Tim and Mike have been friends since junior high school, and Mike worked for a time at Tim’s shop up in La Jolla.

It’s pretty easy to see why Tim is held in such high regard, he’s friendly and outgoing, and loves to share his passion for what he does with others. On display in his booth was his 47,000th (!) surfboard – a white long board beauty with graphite geometric designs all over (it’s laying flat in the back of the picture below). We hit it off immediately, and after informing Tim of our quest, he immediately saw to we were taken care of as if we were long-time friends of his. It took a few different attempts for him to finally reach Mike (who was off demonstrating his technique for shaving foam), and Tim told us to hang on, that Mike would be by in twenty minutes or so – just enough time for us to dash downstairs and hit the ATM so we could pay Mike in cash.

Shortly after we returned, Mike’s wife Carol came by and introduced herself. Just as Tim did, she treated us as if we were long-lost friends. It’s hard to describe the excitement and joy we felt talking to Tim and Carol – literally minutes before strangers from a foreign (at least to us) California surf culture, now sharing our own stories and experiences with each other. By the time Mike showed up, it was actually kind of anti-climatic – my sense is that he’s more of an introvert and was kind of shy at fulfilling our request. Nevertheless, he signed the two books we bought and my poster (looking at it, he said, “You got Bruce’s [i.e., director Bruce Brown] signature – nice”), and seemed genuinely moved when I gave him an extra $20 for signing the poster.

I was going to ask him for a picture, but it was Carol who made the suggestion first. She had a smile that could melt even the largest of glaciers, and Mike seemed to loosen up a bit and actually warmed to the occasion:

dougandmike1

Imagine that, The Great White Shank posing alongside Mike Hynson. Pretty cool, huh? After that, it was thanks and hugs from Tim and Carol as we said our goodbyes – not before, of course, promising to have Tim customize a surfboard we can stick into the sand by our backyard tiki bar! – and I felt like I was on cloud nine at the way the whole thing had played out. I had figured we’d walk in, find Mike’s booth, buy the books, get the poster signed, and be on our way in minutes. The unexpected way it ended up turning out was much more memorable. How could it not be? We made friends with two incredible surf legends, making our weekend trip to San Diego as exciting as we hoped it would be.

Pool temp: 94 degrees

Filed in: Treasure Hunt by The Great White Shank at 13:05 | Comment (1)
August 15, 2010

Hopefully today we are heading back to Phoenix from San Diego, our newly- Mike Hynson autographed “The Endless Summer” poster safely in hand, joining that of director Bruce Brown and and his co-star, Robert August.

Y’all probably are asking, “what’s the big deal about a stupid autograph, let along driving five hours to get one. You have to understand, ever since my brother Mark and I first saw “The Endless Summer” some 35 years ago, I’ve loved the movie, not just for its romantic portrayal of a simpler time when searching for that perfect wave year-round meant summer, sun, and girls (even when Massachusetts was cold and snowy), but for the whole metaphysical idea of being present when wind, sea, and sun join together for that perfect moment in one’s own presence. I always “got” the idea of “The Endless Summer, even if I knew I would never experience that moment for myself.

Still, not in a million years did I ever think that some day I’d be living in Arizona with palm trees and a swimming pool in the back yard – I guess you have to find your own “endless summer” in whatever way God presents it to you.

Here’s a wonderful clip from “The Endless Summer” where Hynson and his surf partner August find that “perfect wave” – at Cape St. Francis, South Africa. A wonderful and mesmerizing clip. Enjoy!

Filed in: Treasure Hunt by The Great White Shank at 00:02 | Comments (2)
August 14, 2010

Tracey and I are in San Diego, hoping our little treasure hunt comes reaps its intended reward. It’s a lazy weekend – perfect for a poem about one of my favorite months of the year – August:

“Let me enjoy
this late-summer day of my heart
while the leaves are still green
and I won’t look so close
as to see that first tint
of pale yellow slowly creep in.
I will cease endless running
and then look to the sky
ask the sun to embrace me
and then hope she won’t tell
of tomorrows less long than today.
Let me spend just this time
in the slow-cooling glow
of warm afternoon light
and I’d think
I will still have the strength
for just one more
last fling of my heart.”

— John Bohrn, Late August

(Hat tip: egreenway.com)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:21 | Comments (0)

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