November 30, 2010

Today was the coldest day I can remember us having since we moved to Arizona more than six years ago. Not temperature wise, but between the temp and the wind early this morning we had a wind chill of 10 degrees for a brief time – almost unheard of for these parts. Tonight the freeze warnings are up once again, but it will be the last night for that sort of thing: in the next couple of days we’ll be back in the ’70s and living like desert Southwest human beings again.

Maybe it’s just me, but this whole “Wikileaks” release of classified info doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s good for people to find out who the good guys and the bad guys really are, even if it’s within your own government. Still, I have to admit at being surprised that Julian Assange, the Australian fellow who heads the Wikileaks website, is still alive or free. After all, there are ways in the intelligence community to take care of that sort of thing. That is, if you really care about national security and preventing this kind of thing from happening. Which I don’t think either President Obama or Attorney General Holder do.

If you’re into that sort of thing check out this book, The Fun Of Dying. I find it both intriguing and perplexing.

And speaking of which…

R.I.P. Leslie Nielson. A dramatic actor whose career and persona were turned around 180 degrees with his appearance in the movie Airplane! For me, his Frank Drebin character in the TV series Police Squad! (and later the Naked Gun trilogy) was the best. Police Squad! was actually a summer replacement show, there were only six shows made, but the funniest thing I ever watched. It’s most controversial bit (it was shown only once, I think, then ended because of complaints) was the opening with a Abraham Lincoln character getting his top hat shot off and then him coming up firing – Funny as hell. Police Squad! was definitely ahead of it’s time and one of a kind. Lots of Leslie Nielson clips out there today. he was a classic and will be missed.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:37 | Comments (3)
November 29, 2010

The one thing all rabbit owners are aware of when it comes to attempting to bond two rabbits together is that: a) most times they will hate each other at first sight, but b) if given time and opportunity most times they will bond and be glad of it. It’s been interesting to watch Butterscotch and Geronimo in their new habitat. We set up two fenced-in areas next to each other in my office/prayer area, and brought home Butterscotch the day before Thanksgiving. We wanted to get her acclimated to her new area before bringing Geronimo in, so she had the room all to herself on Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday, we moved Geronimo out of his cage area that he once shared with his mate Ginger and set him up in the area next to Butterscotch. Because it was important that Geronimo start out fresh, the only items we brought from his old area were his food and water dish. Other than that, he was on new turf, and next to a rabbit that wanted to meet him a helluva lot more than he wanted to meet her. At first glance they both tried to attack each other and there was no small amount of hissing and growling.

Two days later, both rabbits have settled into a ignore each other as much as possible relationship. Geronimo knows that, while Butterscotch tries to spend as much time laying against her side of the fence they both share, she can’t get at him, so he’s pretty content to stay in his own area and pretty much ignore her. Butterscotch, however, is sending the only obvious message rabbits know how to send when they’re interested in another rabbit – leaving cocoa puffs all over her area.

For now, we’ll leave things status quo until we return from a visit to Massachusetts this coming weekend. Then, we’ll start introducing them to each other on totally neutral ground (my bathroom) and we’ll see how it goes. They say 20 minutes a day and try to keep them from killing each other to start, and gradually they’ll get used to each other and hopefully bond. IT can take a while – sometimes up to two months, but we’ll just hope for the best. We’ll keep y’all posted.

I know, I know, photos still forthcoming.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:21 | Comment (1)
November 27, 2010

atom_heart_mother Late November. The air is cold, it’s typically cloudy and gloomy. Whatever leaves the trees might have had in all their glorious green during the summer are either long gone and packed in in bags or, in the case of oaks, remain tethered to helplessly rustle in the cold winds throughout the winter months, pitiful reminders of what was and what is to come if God is to be so kind.

It is this is the time of year I remember so fondly this great Pink Floyd offering from 1970 – it was my brother Mark’s and my favorite Floyd tune for many years – for me, still is. There’s just something about it that (at least in my mind) just oozes the bleakness and cold of a gray November afternoon. I just love it. And it’s not just because of its uniqueness – which it is – there’s a great deal to enjoy in terms of musicianship from all concerned – the band, the choir, the sound effect, the arrangement, not least David Gilmour’s blistering guitar work – all make it one of my all-time favorite Floyd tunes.

Here’s Part 1
And Part 2
And Part 3

They simply don’t make music like that anymore. I mean, when was the last time you heard such a long, slow fade-in? Not to mention drummer Nick Mason’s tom-heavy fills throughout?

Enjoy!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:37 | Comments (0)
November 26, 2010

Tonight it’s cold for here in Arizona – we’ve got freeze warnings up and I’ve got plastic bags and insulating material all over our more sensitive plants.

Not sure I’m ready for the holiday season – there’s been so much going on that I haven’t even considered that it’s this late in the year – my! my! time flies! This whole year has been so eventful and breathtakingly hectic that the idea of laying low and just letting the holiday wrap you up in some quiet, protective quilt seems a foreign and impossible to do. We’re still working on a patio redesign, we have a trip back to Massachusetts next weekend for a Goodboys wedding, and there’s a bunny speed dating effort about to be teed up between the newly-arrived Butterscotch (photo forthcoming as soon as she trusts us enough to stay still for a time!) and Geronimo.

All early signs point to an active year on the Christmas lights front in our subdivision as three houses already have their lights up. Gee whiz.

Hard to believe a new Church Year is about to begin; looking at the Christmas lights on a Thanksgiving night’s walk reminded me just how welcome the lights are and how much this world, and my own heart, hungers for the light of Christ to permeate the weary darkness of our collective souls. Even if it doesn’t know it or even rejects the whole idea of it. This world is soul-sick; all any of us can do is try and make our own little corners of it a better place to live in and reach out to the best of our abilities to help others in need.

Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:40 | Comments (0)
November 23, 2010

It’s a chilly night under a full “blue moon”.

This morning we had to put our heat on for the first time – not bad, huh? I have little doubt it would have come on a lot earlier this year had we not replaced the insulation in our attic this past spring. It cost us $3K to do, but between the tax credit and the A/C savings we already saw this summer, I have no doubt it will have paid for itself in the not-so-distance future.

Apologies for the less frequent posts over the past few days, work has been a bear this week.

I’m not that upset about the Sox letting Victor Martinez go to the Tigers. I’d be just as leery committing vast dollars to a catcher who would be in his mid-30s by the end of his contract. Catchers just don’t hold up that well over the long run. Besides, the Sox need to get younger, and there are bigger fish to go after out there.

But I wouldn’t mind seeing The Sox re-sign third baseman Adrian Beltre. If he wants to come back to Boston, I’d give him what he wants. Dude played hard every minute of every game last year, and he has a swing perfect for Fenway.

That was some Patriots game on Sunday night, huh?

It’s not even 2012 yet and I’m already sick of the media and the cable talk shows harping on who will be the Republican nominee for President. I mean, for God sakes, a lot – and I do mean A LOT – can happen in a year. My guess is that the political landscape will look very different this time next year.

I like the chill of November nights out here, perfect for sipping a Johnny Walker Red under the pineapple lights on the patio. The only problem is, I’m still two weeks away from the patio being finished. Lots of painting left to do, and the guys that tiled and laminated our floors are going to put some tile down over the gray cracked cement slab we currently have out there. I call my color scheme “Bermuda Ice Cream Shop” – bright white door frame, soft pink ceiling, and coral woodwork; pictures will be coming. It’s gonna be a beauty, and Jana will be amazed I conceived it all myself – with a little assistance from Tracey, who negotiated the final color scheme.

Just wondering: has the NHL season begun yet? I hadn’t noticed.

Finally, for those wondering, no I didn’t need to go through one of those exotic and erotic security pat-downs during my flights to and from San Francisco last weekend. Phoenix, San Francisco (the largest airport in the USA that doesn’t employ TSA people, BTW), and San Diego all use the regular walk-in things and that was fine with me. I think, like any other operation as big as TSA is, you’re gonna have wackos on both sides pushing the envelope. And, like anything else these days, common sense is something not very common indeed.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:57 | Comments (4)
November 21, 2010

“Mr. Doug….”.

So began my last stop on the “Great 2010 Endless Summer Poster Treasure Hunt“. It was a gray Friday morning in San Francisco, and John Blakeley, lead guitarist for The Sandals, was on the other end of the line. I had called John at the appointed time, figuring he’d have a lot on his plate, and that I would be scurrying to fit myself into his busy schedule that day. Which was OK, I had come to San Francisco to meet John for the sole purpose of obtaining my final autograph on my Endless Summer movie poster, and I wasn’t going to push it.

“So, John, what’s your schedule for today? We can do lunch, or just meet for a cup of coffee somewhere.”

“Nah, I don’t do that stuff. Why don’t you come by my home studio on Duncan Street around noon or so.”

Whoa. I had just been hooked like some yellowfin tuna on a Fisherman’s Wharf deepwater party boat. Not only would I have the chance to meet John Blakeley, but I’d have a chance to see his studio. I mean, as Rachel Ray was wont to say, how good is that?

On John’s recommendation I forewent the taxi idea and took public transportation – a $2 ticket got me on the F trolley to Embarcadero station, followed by a 30-minute subway ride on the MUNI out to his neighborhood in South San Francisco. It was a nice ride, and I enjoyed seeing all the neighborhoods the train went through after it got above ground on Church Street. I got there a little early and enjoyed a small mocha at this quaint little coffee shop right around the corner from his house, which was situated in an unassuming row of small houses very typical for San Francisco once you get out of the city proper.

The hour was soon upon me, so I strode up to the door, and three raps later I was face-to face with John Blakeley. The final stop on my treasure hunt had begun. It shouldn’t have surprised me, for the same was true when Tracey and I met his Sandals band mates Walter and Gaston Georis, but John Blakeley was the nicest, most down-to-earth guy you could ever meet. We sat down at his little kitchen table and just started talking about music as if we had known each other for years. Comparing music and bands we liked and didn’t, talking about The Sandals and surf music in general, and hearing him tell stories about the bands, personalities, and various equipment he had worked with over the years.

After a little while, he invited me into his studio to listen to some of the new music he was creating with another musician named Jeff Larson. John’s house was really small – it was more like a basement apartment on the bottom floor of a two-story house. A small kitchen in the front big enough for appliances and a small table, his living quarters in the back, and in between, two rooms – one a little larger than the other – which served as his studio. You could have knocked me over with a feather – I mean, what a cool place! A rack of electronics, two huge monitors for editing music (Apple’s Pro Logic 8 his present software of choice), and a couple of guitars laying around – one a beautiful honey-colored Fender Stratocaster that he just had to put in my hands so I could feel the weight of it.

blakeley21

Next on the agenda was to play me some of the newer music he had worked on with Sal Valentino, formerly of the Beau Brummels and Stoneground (the band John joined sometime after The Sandals originally called it quits), and Jeff Larson. We listened to a few tracks while John pointed out to me some of the guitar sounds and techniques he used on them. One of the songs featured John on mandolin, and soon he went into his bedroom and came out with the most beautiful mandolin I’ve ever seen, manufactured by a company called Collings. The woodwork was positively gorgeous, and I told him our friend Jana would be totally disappointed if I didn’t get a picture of him playing something on it, which he gladly obliged…

blakeley3

…this is also a better angle so you can see all the studio equipment in the rack behind him. Me, I was kind of disappointed to not see some big mother 64-track mixing board that you’d feed your guitar directly into – but that’s what having the Apple software can do when you don’t have the space.

It was getting towards mid-afternoon – I had been there for the better part of two hours – and I didn’t want to take up any more of his time than I already had, but John didn’t seem to mind two music geeks listening to and talking about music. He has a great sense of humor and clearly enjoyed telling some pretty funny stories of his experiences with The Sandals and other bands with someone who would “get” the humor of the music industry version of inside baseball. It’s kind of a good thing Tracey wasn’t there – she would have been bored stiff.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, so we headed back out into the kitchen for the moment of truth: signing the Endless Summer poster.

blakeley1

He was pretty impressed seeing Mike Hynson’s, Bruce Brown’s, Robert August’s and Walter and Gaston Georis’ signatures all on there, and a minute later, the deed was done. Somehow, we then got on the topic of science fiction, and when he mentioned he was an avid reader of the genre, I told him Tracey was as well, so he disappeared out back and shortly returned with a copy of Philip K. Dick‘s “Clans Of The Alphane Moon” (one of John’s favorites), which he autographed for Tracey as a gift.

It was time to go. We exchanged contact information and promised each other we’d stay in touch, and I headed back out into the gray cool afternoon with my poster and some parting souveniers to catch my train. As the train crept back towards the reality of my hotel room by Fisherman’s Wharf, my head was swimming in a sea of Blakeley, amazed that, of all the treasure hunt experiences I could have imagined since first conjuring up this crazy idea back in July, this was the most unexpected and crazy wildest of any possible dream I might have had.

Filed in: Treasure Hunt by The Great White Shank at 00:30 | Comments (3)
November 18, 2010

sanfran Today I’m off to San Francisco with “Endless Summer” poster in hand, a TSA inspector’s hands in my pants, and a pocketful of dreams as I anticipate the end of a treasure hunt I could never have imagined ever doing. For some, San Francisco is a magical city, whether it’s because of its unique location, its vibrant multicultural community, cult movies like the “Dirty Harry” series and “Bullitt”, or the legacy of Haight-Ashbury and the “Summer of Love”.

Me, I liked it when I visited some 30 years ago because it was just a cool place to hand. But I doubt it’s anywhere near what it once was – you hear about all the homeless, the bums, the drop-outs, the beggars, the radical gay culture, the whole Nancy Pelosi / ultra-liberal politics that is eating California from within like some societal parasite that won’t be satified until there’s nothing left to eat. And I believe it.

Still, how can you not want to visit San Francisco? After all, there’s great restaurants and shopping by the waterfront, and lots of people have written songs about it. Which got me thinking, which of these songs best describes your image of ” the City by the Bay”:

1. Tony Bennett’s iconic tune?

2. Scott McKenzie’s classic ode to the Summer of Love?

3. This Village People classic?

4. California, Here I Come.

At least when it comes to video, I’m going with #3. Beam me up Scotty, I have a feeling there will be few signs of earthy intelligence there. Which makes Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home such a great movie.

But to meet John Blakeley and have him sign my poster, it will all be worth it! I’ll keep y’all posted. Just don’t expect me to come back a Democrat.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:04 | Comments (0)
November 17, 2010

…you look in the refrigerator and see that half-empty jar of horseradish looking like it was last used to enhance the flavor of shrimp cocktail during the Johnson administration. Time to upgrade.

..the clock radio comes on at 6:20 AM and the bedroom is still in twilight.

…the checkout registers at the local Fry’s have their open lights in red and green, with faux snow providing the necessary seasonal accent.

…you see your next-door neighbors at the local Lowe’s in the checkout line with new patio chairs and boxes of outside lights. We just stick with the traditional window lights (mine are going on the better part of thirty years, I also have two cherished five-candle lights that date back to my grandparents and must be at least fifty years old. Like the Energizer bunny, they’re still goin’. Pretty cool…

…you realize that this coming weekend is going to be an absolute zoo at the local Fry’s, with people doing their Thanksgiving shopping. It’s so critical to make sure your kitchen is well-stocked after your weekend-before-Thanksgiving shopping spree. Three years ago I realized I had forgotten Gravy Master and spent an hour in line on Wednesday evening jammed with all sorts on people decidedly NOT in the holiday spirit. What a downer.

…you finally make the decision to upgrade all your cherished and worn VHS holiday movies into DVD format. Last weekend we decided to finally bite the bullet and order from Amazon “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “A Christmas Carol”, “A Christmas Story”, and “An American Christmas Carol”. It’ll be great to be able to watch these annual traditions in a modern format, by the Christmas tree.

…the catalogs start arriving in the mail in ever-increasing frequency. Today we got an advertisement for Omaha Steaks is getting into the “Black Friday” spirit in a big way – 40% off selected items. Like anything else, with Omaha Steaks you need to pick and choose and shop wisely, but there are some great deals there we may need to check out.

…for the tenth consecutive year you plot your strategy to never set foot in a shopping mall to accomplish your Christmas shopping objectives. This year, as I’ve done the last nine, I will do all my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my office in front of the computer, crowded in only by the rabbits around me.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:37 | Comments (2)
November 16, 2010

These people need to get a life – seriously. Or at least jobs. If there is one group of people that have benefited from the lavish attention placed on them by a fawning media, a generous Bush presidency, and a uber-liberal Democrat in the White House, it is gays. But nothing ever seems to satisfy them. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through life always pissed off.

A cat confronts two alligators. Guess who wins?

In the end, it’s all about efficiency, isn’t it?

The Patriots really put a stomping on the Steelers this past Sunday. Without any dominant teams in the NFL this year, you could actually see the Patriots play the Saints in the Super Bowl. Mark my words, if that were to happen, Rob better prepare for Tracey and I to come down and watch the game with him in enemy territory. Hell, if that were to happen, Dave E oughta come down as well. That would be an absolute blast…

…that is, if he can shovel his way out of his front door by then. Pretty picture – I used to know what that looked and felt like. Instead, I’ve got painting to do on my back patio, where the coral and soft pink are going to make a lovely Caribbean contrast once all is said and done.

…can’t wait until this arrives in the mail. Considering the chances are good I’ll get to meet one of the composers of the theme song to this classic film this coming Friday, don’t mind me, I’m living in Fantasyland.

this item ought to give people pause.

…we’ll never get this country’s economy back on track until Washington has the courage to tackle this.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:52 | Comments (7)
November 15, 2010

The house is quiet tonight, and bed is going to feel pretty good after two solid days of scraping and painting the back patio (which is going to look great when done, but right now is a mess of tarps, tape, paint cans, and painting implements of every kind you can think of). And the quiet is nice, because this promises to be quite the interesting week.

On Thursday, I’ll be traveling to San Francisco in preparation for a Friday get-together with John Blakeley, guitarist for The Sandals, to hopefully bring my “Great 2010 Endless Summer Poster Treasure Hunt” to a close. I’m really looking forward to meeting John, from our two phone conversations thus far he seems like a great guy. It’s not every day you get the chnace to meet one of your guitar heroes.

Sometime next week we’ll be introducing a new rabbit into our household to try some “Bunny Speed Dating” for Geronimo, who has really seemed lonely the past couple of weeks. When we lost Ginger, his bonded companion, back in September, he didn’t really seem to take it that hard, but we’ve noticed over the past week or so that he seems kind of bored and lonely.

A week ago I went up to The Bunny Basics, a rabbit rescue in Scottsdale, to scout potential suitors fro,m among the 120+ rabbits they’re presently hosting. How do you pick a new mate for Geronimo from so many rabbits? Well, first of all, I was looking for a female, as, while you can bond two males together, you have to start with a personality that would accept a male bunny as a mate, and Geronimo doesn’t have that kind of personality. And personalities have a lot to do with it – I wouldn’t call Geronimo an aggressive rabbit, but he is assertive, and so the female bunny would have to have a bit of a laid-back, easygoing personality – no divas please!

After comparing notes with Kelly, who runs the shelter and knows all the rabbits and their personalities by heart, we chose a brown lop named Butterscotch. She’s been in a holding pen with four other females ever since she and 100 other rabbits were emergency rescued from a lady’s backyard back in July, and she more than her other pen-mates seemed to go out of her way to want their company. So you have one lonely rabbit in need of a mate, and another who loves other rabbits company. What could go wrong?

Plenty, which is why we’ll be moving Geronimo out of his pen and into “neutral ground” (my office and prayer area) where he will start from scratch with a new cage area placed right next to Butterscotch’s. His area will be outfitted with new blankets and a new litter pan – the only thing he’ll keep from his old area will be his food and water dish. The goal is to have them in separate but adjacent cage areas for a few days so they can get used to each other’s scent and personality without the baggage of Geronimo protecting his territory. Then, we’ll start “chaperoned dating” – 20 minutes a day with full access to each other. If they play nice, we’ll gradually increase their time together until the day they can be moved back into Geronimo’s old area, not outfitted with the bonded pair’s stuff. Will it work? We’ll see. You can be sure Goodboys Nation weblog will have all the daily updates.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments (0)

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