March 11, 2011


Today in the Valley of the Sun it felt like early summer, we got up to near 90. But I know back home things are quite a bit different – a perfect time for a poem such as this:

“Winds of March, we welcome you,
There is work for you to do.
Work and play and blow all day,
Blow the Winter wind away.”

“March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in.”
– Susan Reiner, Spring Cleaning

Hat tip: GardenDigest.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:54 | Comments Off on A March Poem
March 10, 2011


robin You new it had to happen sooner or later – after all, wasn’t it only yesterday that we were drinking champagne to welcome in the New Year, then the Northeast got slammed with one snowstorm after another (we here in the Valley of the Sun getting our usual couple-two-three winter rain and wind storms as well), then came the Super Bowl, followed by that happy little weekend in Las Vegas. Before you knew it, all of a sudden it’s March and Lent, next week is St. Patty’s Day, we’re only weeks away from the Masters, and I’m frantically stashing money away for when the taxman comes a’calling. Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner, as is Spring itself. Listen…. do you hear it? The pages on the calendar are flipping furiously, the year veritably slipping away before our very eyes, so you knew it was coming, it had to.

And then all of a sudden there it was, sitting in my Inbox yesterday, just as shiny and fresh as moonlight in a martini – my very own personal invitation to the 2011 Goodboys Invitational, courtesy of defending champs Steve “Killer” Kowalski and Pat “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin. The big Kahunas. The top dogs. The Big Fellas. The top bananas. Exec-Comm.

Sure, it seems like the third weekend in July is still light years away, but a little over four months is not much time to coordinate the annual extravaganza that brings all of Goodboys Nation from hundreds and thousands of miles away. If you’re Exec-Comm, there are locales to choose – the Cape, the New Hampshire/Main seacoast, Myrtle Beach, Hawaii, the British Isles, the Lowell/Dracut metroplex. Then, once that decision is out of the way, there are lodgings to reserve, golf courses to weigh the pros and cons of, and, once you know who’s in and who’s out, pairings to consider, strokes to give out and take back, and, most of all, begging Cubby to do the scoreboard. (Nice new webpage, Cub!)

It’s not a responsibility that one can take lightly – I sure as heck wouldn’t put Barack Obama in charge of it. Hell, he can’t even run his own freakin’ Cabinet, for gawdsakes. I guess he’s too busy playing golf and entertaining at the White House to worry about such trivial matters. Besides, it’s not as if the country has any major issues to deal with – after all, it’s not like we’re one of those reckless countries staggering like a drunken sailor under a crippling mountain of debt, or seeing rising gas prices as a result of a deadly combination of Middle East instability and an ultimately-fatal dependency on foreign oil that threatens its very social and economic future. Thank God we don’t have those kinds of problems!

But I digress.

Getting your very own, personalized Goodboys Invitational invite tells you it’s time to start dusting off the clubs and heading out to the range and putting green for some work. Word is that Exec-Comm has decided we’ll be playing from the blue tees this year, so no waiting around until June and 110-degree temps like last year for me! There’s a short game to work own, positive swing thoughts to cultivate, Hawaiian shirts to pick out, and a new set of Cobra S2 Offset woods to dream about getting when the time is right.

Yesiree, robin redbreast has come calling, and The Great White Shank has answered the door. Bring. It. On.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:14 | Comments (6)
March 9, 2011


Today we begin that solemn journey toward the Feast of the Resurrection. I’ve always enjoyed the solemnity of Lent, and associate it with my earliest memories of attending St. Anne’s Episcopal Church. While I’ve never really bought into the whole idea of giving up something for the season, I do find my mind more sensitive to the thoughts of who am I and what am I in terms of spirit and spirituality. The introspection is good for the soul, so I always try to create a quiet space during the day, whether sitting quietly or kneeling by my prayer table or laying down for a few minutes just to clear the head out.

I found this Ash Wednesday page at a site called “fish eaters”; it includes this brief homily:

In Genesis 3:19 we hear God tell us “for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return,” but nowadays, when someone dies, they are rushed from deathbed to funeral home to be embalmed and to be worked over by a make-up artist so that that “dusty reality” is hidden from us. Their deaths are spoken of as almost an embarrassment; “he passed,” they say, or “he is no longer with us.” These comforting but sterile luxuries weren’t an option in the past when plagues felled so many people that there weren’t enough survivors to bury them, when bodies had to be stored all winter until the ground was soft enough to dig, when most of the children a woman bore died before they were able to grow up. In our culture, with our medicines and “funeral sciences,” we are afraid to look at death, and we are a poorer people because of it. No matter how long science can prolong life, no matter how much embalming fluid is pumped into a corpse, nature will have her way. This is Truth. And when nature has her way, we can either rest in the knowledge that the ultimate Victor is Christ, Our Lord, Who walked out of His tomb 2,000 years ago and offers resurrection to us, or we can believe that decay is all that is left. This is the meaning of Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is the day for being reminded of and contemplating our mortality, of which Ecclesiasticus 1 reminds us:

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh…

When a new Pope processes to St. Peter’s Basilica to offer his first Mass as Pope, the procession stops three times and, at each stop, a piece of flax mounted on a reed is burned. As the flames die, the Pope hears the words, “Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi” (“Holy Father, thus passes the glory of the world”), to remind him not only that he is a mere man, but as a man, a mere mortal whose end is like the end of all other men. The things of this world are transient, and Christians must always keep one eye on the world to come.

Recalling this Truth is one of the principles behind the use of ashes on the forehead today: to remind us that we are mortal, subject to the rot and decay our Western culture now desperately tries to euphemize away, and that we are radically dependent on — solely dependent on — Jesus Christ to overcome this fate.

They are like a yearly contemplation of the tombstone inscribed with:

Remember friends as you pass by,
as you are now so once was I.
As I am now so you must be.
Prepare for death and follow me.

While death should, of course, be avoided as the evil it is, we should accept the reality of it with the attitude behind the words attributed to the great Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse: “It is a good day to die” (“Hoka hey”). Death should not be feared in itself; what should be approached with trepidation is the judgment that follows — not because God is a malicious Father who wants to inflict pain, but because He is as just as He is merciful. We need to repent, accept the reality of death, and not only consider our judgment, but be ready for it.

Have a blessed and spiritually introspective Lenten season, everyone.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comments Off on Ash Wednesday
March 8, 2011


thebigeasy OK, I know the accents drive Rob crazy, but being that it’s Fat Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday for all you Anglicans – present and former – out there) it seems only fitting that I close my “Movie Madness Marathon” with one of my true all-time faves, “The Big Easy”. There’s really nothing I don’t like about the movie. I love it centers around the River, Ellen Barkin is adorable, and the movie soundtrack is awesome too – that’s how I came to love Zydeco and have a nice little collection that includes the music of Beausoleil and some some great local bands. Being a huge fan of New Orleans and being around it enough, I know the movie is a caricature, but that’s OK – that’s what makes it great; it’s still wonderfully entertaining, with a fine ensemble cast.

First clip: Dennis Quaid (Lt. Remy McSwain) and Barkin (district attorney Ann Osborne) on a date at “Tipitina’s”. It’s a great scene and the two (who reportedly fought like cats and dogs throughout the production) exhibit a great chemistry together.

What’s really interesting, however, is this missing scene from the final product, which I wish hadn’t ended up on the cutting room floor. I always though the cut between the explosion on the dock and then the scene of Quaid and Barkin getting married was a bit too quick and awkward, now I know why. Here you get all the loose ends tied back together, Barkin turning Quaid’s earlier words back on him, leading to a marriage proposal and that cute ending. sure wish it was part of the finished product.

“The Big Easy”, even with its accents, always makes me smile and takes me away to a mythical place far, far away in my imagination. And isn’t that what movies are all about to begin with?

Hope y’all enjoyed my clips over the past week. I was going to put some in for “Master And Commander”, but you try to find some decent clips on YouTube without wacko Patrick O’Brian fans putting their own music to a film whose clips ought to be able to stand on their own – the acting is that good. Oh well, such is life.

Tonight Tracey and I are planning a traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake supper (you can make the Anglican a Roman Catholic, but you can’t wipe the slate clean completely!). Lent begins tomorrow.

And now I have to actually do some actual writing for this blog. 🙂

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:31 | Comments (5)
March 7, 2011


Two great clips here from The Shawshank Redemption, a really great flick, and another of my all-time faves. It’s a moving film, because nothing in it happens quickly – I like the way the film moves slow and the lives of all involved evole over time – specifically, the friendship between Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

Here’s the first.

…and here’s the great ending. From Maine to Mexico, you run the gambit of emotions, which is what makes it such a great film.

Only one more to go, then I guess I’ll have to start writing again. 🙂

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:08 | Comments Off on “Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying”
March 6, 2011

atpm How can I have an all-time favorite movie without a couple of memorable clips?

All The President’s Men is such a great flick on a number of levels. It really captures the early ’70s and the paranoia of the Nixon presidency in an authentic way. It’s wild to see a newsroom without computers, cell phones, iPads and all the technological trappings of this day and age. Watching Robert Redford dialing his rotary phone over and over and tapping away on a typewriter is an amazing thing, indeed. What’s really weird about the Washington Post newsroom scenes is that their office is laid out exactly the same way, and with a lot of the same colors, as when I worked my first programming job at Liberty Mutual Insurance back in the late ’70s. What memories it brings back – it all makes me feel so damned old!

Anyways, back to the action…this is a great scene:

Mr. Markham: “I’m not here.”

Woodward: “OK…”

Mr. Markham: “Though clearly I am here.”

You want to talk paranoia? You want to talk about neo-existentialism? This scene has it all. I still remember guy playing the lawyer “Mr. Markham” being a regular on the soap opera my grandfather used to watch every day – might have been “General Hospital” or its sister show at the time. Anyways, for some weird reason I still remember he played the character Peter Delaney on that show.

Of course, the highlights of ATPM were the parking scenes where Redford’s Bob Woodward meets with his deep background informer “Deep Throat”. You want paranoia? You got it.

The cinematography of this film is incredible – with so much of it filnm

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:05 | Comments Off on Movie Madness Continued
March 5, 2011

quint Back to the movies. The connection between “Jaws” and the Goodboys goes back years, almost to the very inception of the Goodboys Invitational. Even today, twenty years on, if you find yourself in a match with Steve “Killer” Kowalski and yours truly, you’re bound to find some kind of a Quint cadence when facing some dicey linksy situation.

One of the great scenes in “Jaws” is Quint’s Indianapolis monologue; few people know that Shaw put his previous screenplay-writing experience to work and actually wrote this scene.

Great writing and great acting; when your absorbed into the movie itself it’s actually chilling.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:38 | Comments (2)
March 4, 2011


Let’s take a break from the movies for a day. Tonight I’m patio blogging. It’s very, very late on a Friday night. I should be in bed by now, but it’s hard to decompress from such a long and hard work week so I’ve retreated to this quiet, happy little place long after Tracey and her twin sister (staying for the weekend) have departed for the confines of the bedroom. There’s a rising breeze from the north, and I’m here in a comfy wicker chair under soft pineapple lights, the wind chimes above me tinkling their approval as the palm trees around the pool rustle their own.

I wish I had a camera that could take night pictures, because it really is a happy spot – especially when at such a late hour the temperatures are still in the high ’50s. Real, bonafide Spring has arrived in the Valley this week, with the first flowering bushes (the yellow acacia) bursting into yellow. The mourning doves hav also gotten really active – you know what that means!

Hard to believe at such a late hour there are still planes flying into Sky Harbor Airport, but one just passed over us. That’s what you get when you live in the farthest reaches of the Mountain Time Zone.

Finished reading “King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era”. It was good, not great. But I definitely know a whole lot more about Joplin than I did before.

Now I’m reading “The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba’s Last Tycoon”. From its very first pages I can tell it’s going to be a great read.

There’s a nice breeze starting to come up at this hour. One thing I’ll never get used to around here is how desert breezes come up at any and every particular time without any seeming reason, then maybe a half-hour later disappear just as mysteriously as they came.

I’m feeling pretty burned out tonight – all these 60-70 hour weeks are bound to catch up from time to time. Yesterday, I laid down for twenty minutes just to rest my eyes and woke up two hours later not knowing where I was. I feel like my whole life is being lived in the twilight. But I like what I do for a living, so what are you gonna do?

There’s a line in “The Sugar King” where Lobo, long in years after many years of success as a sugar baron, finds a young office boy turned Castro revolutionary sitting at the grand desk he has occupied. The revolutionary says to him, “Lobo, the revolution has given you what you deserved and stripped you naked”, upon which Lobo responds, “That’s OK, some of the best times I ever knew was when I was a child and naked”. I think about the economy, the direction ths country is headed, and my age, and I know the day will come when all of these happy and peaceful patio surroundings will be taken away from me. Could be through economics, or age or health reasons; could be ten years from now, could be tomorrow, but I’m good with that. Nothing lasts forever, our mortality is aways staring us in the face even if we haven’t got the courage and humilty to recognize it. I’m good with that.

Many people, I think, go through life thinking they’re invincible, that somehow what they are and what they have will always be there. Me, I’ve never been that way. I try to appreciate every day for what it is, and will never again take for granted how fortunate I have been: fortunate to have been born to wonderful parents, to have been brought up where I was as a New Englander, to have been given an ear for music, to have true and wonderful friends (Goodboys and otherwise), to have married a great girl and her equally great (although at times trying) twin sister – a quick word to the gents out there: when you marry a twin you marry both of them – and to have traveled and lived the places I have.

I remember one Saturday afternoon while Tracey and I were living back in Massachusetts not that long after we were married, and saying to her that if I never got out of Massachusetts I would consider my life a failure. Well, I’ve certainly accomplished that, and, like everything else, there’s good and bad – to everything there is a blessing and a curse. In the end it doesn’t matter, I guess: you make due with what God has given you and hopefully you recognize the opportunities that come to us all when they present themselves. More than anything else, you don’t leave the world in a worse place then it was when you first came into it. I don’t think I’ve done that.

The breeze has suddenly gotten a bit of chill to it, so enough philosophy. I’m going to bed.

But before I go, how about a great (albeit unheralded) Fleetwood Mac tune to say goodnight to. Listen for the Stevie Nicks’ low harmony (at times she’s she’s singing even lower than Lindsay Buckingham!). Awesome.

Night, all.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:25 | Comments Off on Intermission
March 3, 2011

I know, I know, it would have been more appropriate to do these last week during the run-up to the Oscars. But The Great White Shank has never bothered with worrying about that kind of trifling thing. Besides, I didn’t think of it then.

Anyways, continuing the theme of some of my all-time favorite movie scenes, here is Jeff Daniels from Gettysburg, pleading his case to a bunch of fellow Maine gents whose enlistments just ran out and their regiment was folded. Before Gettysburg I never realized how good an actor Jeff Daniels was. In Gettysburg he was fantastic.

There was great, great acting throughout this movie. Check out Martin Sheen’s portrayal of General Robert E. Lee and this scene where he dresses down Jeb Stuart for disobeying orders, or this scene where he questions his generals for not pushing the fight earlier in the day. His deliberate, forceful, and caring nature makes for a fabulous performance.

…or this scene with Kevin Conway and Jeff Daniels as they discuss the issue of slavery. Very moving to me.

…or this scene with Daniels revealing to his spent division the need to charge the Rebs. I love the way he simply commands without yelling, “Charge.” It’s the highlight of the film. Awesome!

Gettysburg is just a priceless piece of film; a new, extended edition on Blu-ray is due on July 5th of this year, restoring all the scenes deleted on the original DVD that were included in the original VHS version. Can’t wait to get it.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:34 | Comments (3)
March 2, 2011


baldwin Still on the subject of movies, it occurred to me this morning I should have added another of my favorite movie scenes to yesterday’s post.

I love the acting in this scene, it is so rock-solid; the charged atmosphere and feeling it generates is really something. And it hits close to home to me, because during my fortunately-brief (and ill-advised) attempt to sell insurance when I first moved out to AZ, we listened to this kind of thing every Monday morning at 9 AM. It wasn’t near as harsh, but the sentiment was there. Me? I was like the Ed Harris character in the scene, except I had good leads and gave them to a woman co-worker who I knew was far better at her craft than I was and had a child to support.

I still remember the whiteboard you couldn’t help but see every day you came to work. It said…

TIMID SALESPEOPLE HAVE THIN KIDS

Believe it or not, I’ve yet to see the entire movie – that’s on my “bucket list”. I don’t even know if the movie is good or not, but I just love the acting and the tension in this scene. Alec Baldwin has never been better.

The phrase “A-B-C. Always. Be. Closing.” actually came up on a couple of occasions during our Goodboys weekend in Vegas, but the better part of discretion prevents me to say exactly what context that phrase involved. Hope y’all understand…but it was priceless, and watching this scene makes me laugh just remembering how it came up. Good times.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:13 | Comment (1)

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