August 22, 2011

I finally completed the full cycle of opinions when it comes to President Barack Obama and his administration. While I certainly had my misgivings about the man and his ability to live up to all the impossible expectations both he and a slobbering mainstream media set upon him and his election, I was still willing to give the dude the benefit of the doubt. As I wrote back on the eve if his inauguration:

Look, I don’t wish the new President …but pardon me if I won’t watch or celebrate his inauguration. For some it’s a historic moment, and I say let them enjoy the thrills and chills of his inauguration day. But don’t come crying to me when the guy fails to live up to the impossibly high expectations being set for him and he turns out to be nothing more than the Wizard behind the curtain. Believe me, he has no more clue than you or I would as to how to turn things around (other than, of course, to spend money he doesn’t have and redistribute wealth it wasn’t his to begin with, but you can’t blame him for that – after all, he is a liberal).

But, being ahead of the curve on these kinds of things as I normally am (although in Goodboys Nation everyone knows no one listens to The Great White Shank), it wasn’t all that long before I feared the guy was in way over his head by misjudging his election as a mandate for his socialist, big government agenda rather than general dissatisfaction with the status quo and giving an inexperienced outsider a chance to change the way Washington works:

Think about it: elected under the guise of a uniter and a post-partisan leader, he has allowed the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent members of his party to call those who have the gall to earnestly and in good conscience question the rushed and radical reform of the nation’s healthcare system at a time of skyrocketing deficits, unprecedented federal spending, and looming crises involving Medicare and Social Security systems) “un-American”, “swastika carrying” brownshirts, and “political terrorists”.

And not only that. Just today, knowing full well he already has the necessary majorities in both the House and the Senate to pass whatever legislation he so chooses to push, he drags out Hillary Clinton’s old “vast right-wing conspiracy” to accuse Republicans of deliberately wanting to destroy his presidency! By taking this track, the President has abdicated his role as a leader and uniter; it smacks of political inexperience and a general lack of understanding regarding the role a President must play in being the elected representative of – yes, Barack – all the people, not just those who would happily and willingly drink whatever Kool-Aid you’re selling.

Were that he was just an incompetent, I could deal with that (heck, even the country could – after all, we lived through the Jimmy Carter era). But after this callous and disgraceful exhibition whereupon I wrote:

Y’know, I used to think Barack Obama was just an inexperienced street organizer who happened to hit the mother lode at the right time to become President of the United States – someone who got lucky and was just in way over his head. The more I see of him, however, the more I realize he is just a vile and despicable human being incapable of any empathy or interest beyond whatever suits his own narcissistic desires and political agenda.

I’ve come to see this President not just as incompetent, incredibly narcissistic, and politically tone-deaf beyond any reasonable measure, but dangerous to this country as well. I know there are plenty of folks out there who will disagree with me on this, but Obama is an extremist idealogue hell-bent on destroying as much of this country’s free-market capitalism and social and economic infrastructure in order to achieve his (and the Democratic Party’s) goal of instituting a European-style socialism whereby the government redistributes all income and, through regulation and policy, institutes its will upon the people in the name of “fairness” and equality”.

Harsh words, you say? Then explain to me the following and you tell me if I’m wrong. In just the past two weeks, he and his administration:

1. Issued an executive order bypassing this country’s immigration laws by issuing an “internal policy” not to deport illegal aliens other than those who have committed some other serious crime. The cynic in me sees this as pure electoral politics, but when you have astronomically-high and persistent unemployment, why would you allow people here illegally to compete for work for those here legally?

2. Thumbed its nose at Congress by continuing the practice of granting Obamacare waivers after it promised it would suspend that practice nearly a year ago. If Obamacare was so critical to reducing health-care costs and reducing the amount of people without insurace, why all the waivers?

3. In the middle of a struggling economy, announced plans to implement and enforce regulations that will not only put more people out of work, make us more energy-dependent, not less, and increase the likelihood of rolling blackouts.

4. Filed suit against the state of Alabama over its attempt to enforce anti-illegal immigration similar to the law (and lawsuit) involving Arizona last year.

There is no way anyone except the most hardened liberal ideologue could see in these actions anything but an administration that cares little about the rule of law and the economic stability and viability of this nation. You’re seeing a President who is pursuing unannounced war against the private sector and private industry, pursuing class warfare in the name of income redistribution, and imposing rules and regulations drafted by heavy-handed and unelected public officials. I once thought the Obama administration was simply over-zealous in pursuing its ideological agenda to the point of being clueless, but the more you see of it, the more you come to see it as reckless and lawless to the point where one has to wonder how much of this is intentional.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:11 | Comments (0)
August 21, 2011

I’ve been dreading having to attack the lemon and lime trees on the east side of our property for quite some time – the trees are frought with danger, both of them having thorns sticking out every place you can think of – but when I had to duck almost like doing the limbo rock this morning just trying to bring recycles out to the barrel I decided enough was enough. I grabbed my handy hand saw and just started working my way surgically around the trees, not just to get them pruned, but to make them look nice. I figure to have a local tree company come out and do it would cost a minimum of $500 (unless, of course I wanted Mexicans of dubious immigration status to do it for much less), but the fact is, there are times as a responsible homeowner you can’t just farm out everything, so in 105-degree weather I took upon the task.

I’m pleased to say that the results came out really nice (although in hindsight wearing gloves might have saved both my hands and arms from being scratched and scraped to the point of looking like I was wrestling with ten cats). but I sawed off no small amount of vegetation from the two trees:

limes1

The lemons aren’t anywhere close to being ripe (they won’t be until December), but the amount of limes I took from the lime tree were astronomical:

limes2

The limes we get from our tree are so different from what you would get in a supermarket. Sure, they have seeds, but compared to supermarket limes the flavor from these are like limes on steroids. They’re wonderful for making guacamole, mojitos, and Tracey’s cosmopolitans, and if I still drank margaritas (alas, since turning fifty all tequila does is give me a headache), they’d be perfect for that as well. As you can see, we ended up with about three supermarket shopping bags worth, and I’ve left about a hundred of them outside for Carmelo and the gang when they come to do my landscaping this week.

But it was hot work, I’ll tell you that. Five glasses of lemonade and two dunks in the 90-degree pool later, I was still getting dehydration cramps in my feet and hands. Nevertheless, I think I’d make a pretty damned fine tree trimmer if I ever wanted to dump being a project manager. It’s fun to look at the contours of trees and find ways to make them look more presentable for the surroundings they find themselves in.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:35 | Comments (4)
August 20, 2011

Behind the SMiLE era of 1966-67, my next favorite period of Beach Boys music are the years from 1970-73, when their popularity was at its lowest ebb and they were trying to find their own image and sound with founder and leader Brian Wilson in recluse. While their albums during this period – Sunflower, Surf’s Up, Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”, and Holland were amongst their poorest selling at the time, they have stood the test of time and have come to be seen as minor gems, if not outright classics, in the BB catalog.

What I think I like most about this period of time, especially with the last two albums in this series, is how un-Beach Boys-like they sound. The primary reason for this is the change in personnel resulting from bassist Bruce Johnston’s departure following Surf’s Up, Dennis Wilson’s nearly two-year absence on drums following an incident involving one of his hands and a plate glass door, and the addition of two South Africans from the band The Flame, guitarist Blondie Chaplin and drummer Ricky Fataar. This change in personnel brought about a more soulful and funky edge to the traditional Beach Boys sound, quite different from that on Sunflower and Surf’s Up, and much different from the one that would follow after Chaplin’s and Fataar’s departure prior to 1976 and the whole “Brian Is Back” campaign that resulted in 15 Big Ones.

I think I also like this period best because it was the most current when my brother Mark and I first discovered the Beach Boys in all their hairy and hippie glory. Understand, this was before “Endless Summer” and “Spirit of America”, and the record-buying public re-embracing the classic Beach Boys tunes of the early- and mid-sixties as escapist tonic to Watergate and the winding down of the Vietnam conflict. Mark and I loved the fact that you could play their music from this period to anyone and they’d never guess who the artist was – to us, that made the Beach Boys cooler than cool. Mellow due to Dennis’ fascination with love songs and the group’s embrace of Transcendental Meditation, funky with the addition of Chaplin’s and Fataar’s energy and musicianship. It was a combination hard to beat, even if only a few were listening at the time.

Here, then, are some samples of their stuff from 1972 and 1973. To me it never, ever gets tiring:

From Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”: “All This Is That” (Mike Love’s and Alan Jardine’s ode to TM), “He Come Down” (a mix of gospel and TM, quite unlike anything else they have ever recorded), “Marcella” (a more classic BB-sounding tune), “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone” (a bit of soulful funk with a gritty Carl Wilson vocal featuring Daryl “The Captain” of The Captain and Tennille on piano), and “Cuddle Up” (a Dennis Wilson classic with Dragon on piano and Toni Tennille on background vocal).

From Holland: “We Got Love” (featuring Chaplin and Fataar, an anti-apartheid tome dropped from the album at the last minute, unreleased in studio form to this day), “Steamboat” (a murky Dennis Wilson tune featuring Carl on lead and an atmospheric slide-guitar solo), “The Trader” (Carl Wilson on the lead), “Sail On Sailor” (one of their all-time great tunes), and “California Saga – California” (Brian Wilson actually sings the intro to this hint of classic sound in a folksy, ’70s setting).

Classic sounds, great memories.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:33 | Comments (2)
August 19, 2011

We only got the trailing edge of yet another dust storm that hit the Valley tonight, but we did get some cool-colored clouds (a mix of yellow and salmon with glowing white edges) and some nice lightning to our north and east. Oh, and something like thirty drops of rain that evaporated as soon as it hit the still-warm pavement. Parts get a powerful storm with microbursts and downed trees, other parts get pretty clouds and a few drops of wet dust. Such is monsoon season around these parts. Me, I can do without the microbursts, but some rain would be most certainly welcome.

In the meantime, an ode to August and memories of a less desert-y and dusty place:

“I Remember August”

I remember August:
that breathy space before fall;
the long slow arc of the sun
touching the northern horizon.

I remember August:
its dampness confined to fog
pulled along the seashore’s edge
and into the bays and rivers.

I remember
silent waves rocking small stones:
shifting, slipping, and sliding
sibilant sighs and whisperings.

I remember
the hay lying cut and straight,
drying in the summer sun
waiting for the baler to come.

I remember August:
with the soft shade and shadows,
and the long hours of twilight
creeping slowly toward the night.

On this October rain day
I remember August.

— Pam Olson

Hat tip: Poemhunter.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:21 | Comments (0)
August 18, 2011

hurricane_camille Hard to believe that it’s been 42 – count ’em, 42! – years since Hurricane Camille blasted the Gulf Coast, causing 153 deaths and millions of dollars of damage and devastation. From Accweather.com:

Hurricane Camille is one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States with sustained winds of 170 mph and higher. Camille made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi on Aug. 17, 1969 as a Category 5 hurricane. Camille remains one of the deadliest and costliest for the United States on record. Camille’s lowest pressure was 909 millibars and had a 24-foot storm surge, one of the highest in recorded history.

I was thirteen years old in the summer of 1969 and vividly remember reading about Camille in the Lowell Sun and being blown away (no pun intended) by the stories and photos of her power and the devastation left behind. As it happens, Camille’s landfall also coincided with Woodstock; I can remember the juxtoposition of both news events in the same newspaper and being amazed at the fury of the times. Peace. Love. Hurricane. Death.

There are so many memories about that summer of 1969; as a young teen the music I was listening to at that time reflected the AM radio innocence of that age: The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”; Zager and Evans’ “In The Year 2525” (I can still remember my brother Mark and I riding our bikes all the way down to Stadium Plaza in Lowell (easily a 1.5 hour trek) on a Friday night just to buy their 45 RPM single); the Youngbloods’ “Get Together”. But things and times they were a-changin’: in less than a months’ time The Beatles would release their iconic “Abbey Road”; getting it for a present that Christmas, I fell in love with Paul McCartney’s bass on “You Never Give Me Your Money” and music for me would never be the same: I would find myself playing bass in my very first band within a years’ time.

Besides, the Manson murders also occurred that summer, and with them went the whole bogus idea that the Sixties and the “Summer of Love” were some beautiful, existential way of life; it was always just a load of crap and the first of many excuses for checking out of life and indulging in one’s own self-destructive tendencies without any concern for anyone – after all, the burgeoning “nanny state” would take care of you. Rock on, dude.

But I digress.

Back in 2000, Tracey and visited the Hurricane Camille gift shop in Gulfport, Mississippi; the gift shop was actually in a boat that had washed a mile or so inland. Unfortunately, the gift shop was irrevocably damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and ultimately destroyed; what nature gives, nature takes away. If there’s one thing to remember about Hurricane Camille, it is that no matter what man devises, it holds but a candle to the awesome power of God’s creation.

Those are my memories, does anyone out there have any in regards to Hurricane Camille and the summer of 1969?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:59 | Comments (3)
August 17, 2011

…from a world gone mad while we here in the Valley of the Sun bake in the humidity and patiently wait for any kind of rain during this disappointingly-dry monsoon season:

Headline: Bride Sees Groom Eaten By Shark. Typical media concocting a headline that is misleading. It’s not as if the shark was invited to the wedding, and besides, this happened during their honeymoon, not during their wedding. Just thinking: does this mean the bride has to return the gifts? (Hat tip: Drudge)

Teen stabbed at non-violence gathering. Well, what else would you expect in the City of Brotherly Love? (Hat tip: Instapundit)

Obama warns Rick Perry that words matter. This from the same guy who told his supporters to “get in the faces” of those who disagree with them? Or his own VP calling the Tea Party “terrorists”, or his own Senate Majority Leader calling them “hostage takers”. Me? I’m tired of all these calls for civility. After all, you only hear liberals call for civility after conservatives hit them about their true intentions.

Black on black rhetoric by Philadelphia mayor raises eyebrows. I could have told you this was going to happen, this is where the sixties liberalism of “do your own thing” meets the reality of working for a living:

“If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied and your pants half-down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” Nutter told the congregation “They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy. You have damaged your own race.”

Actually, I feel the same way when looking at so many men and women out here with large portions of their bodies covered with tattoos. I mean, if you’re an employer and someone shows up with tattoos all over their arms, legs, and necks, would you hire them? I wouldn’t. And especially out here in Arizona, where much business is done in casual clothes by necessity. Call me old school, but to me these people are basically sending the message, “screw you what you think, I’m a freak!”

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:57 | Comments (0)
August 16, 2011

Found this out on YouTube, it’s the last song recorded by the Beach Boys before Carl Wilson passed away. This unreleased Brian Wilson song is a great tune. Enjoy. Carl Wilson’s voice was so distinctive, I miss him every waking day.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:42 | Comments (0)

As we look back on the four majors played on the 2011 professional golf calendar, it’s going to be hard to imagine future years matching the level of excitement and drama that we saw this year at the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the just-completed PGA Championship. I mean, think about it: if you recall, the back nine at The Masters provided some of the greatest excitement ever seen at a major, with the fate of no less than eight golfers seemingly hinging on a single swing, and everyone (announcers included) clueless as to what would happen next. Then, at the U.S. Open at Congressional we saw young Rory McIloy not only live up to all the hype to capture his first major, but avenge his Masters meltdown (a final round 80).

The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s last month lived up to every expectation with the rain, the wind, and a Mickelson charge that fell short, allowing sentimental favorite Darren Clarke to take home the claret jug. And then, to top it all off, this past weekend at the PGA where it seemed a true changing of the guard was taking place – Tiger Woods missing the cut and a 3rd-round leaderboard filled with a bunch of fearless young guns. Watching Keegan Bradley rebound from triple-bogey disaster at the 15th and Jason Dufner struggle to hold on through a brutal last four holes made for as compelling golf as one will ever see.

I’m not sure there is much to be learned from each of these events in total – each had its own drama and unique tale to tell – but it would be hard to ignore the fact that 2011 (at least as far as the majors are concerned) ends with three extremely talented youngsters (Charl Schwartzel, McIlroy, and Bradley) winning their first majors and giving us a glimpse into what should be years of exceptional golf to come, eclipsing both those at the top of world rankings (Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, etc.) and those greats of majors past who seem to have shown their first signs of golf mortality (Woods, Mickelson).

There’s a lot of leaves and snow to fall before the first 2012 major, but I can’t wait for Augusta to see how the golf world looks at that time.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:04 | Comments (0)
August 15, 2011

Beautiful full moon out there tonight. Took a luxurious swim under the moonlight and reveled in the lovely blue / green / gray of the water as I swished around as all around me the houses and the people within them slept.

Whenever there’s a night like this I think of this classic chestnut written by Brian Wilson and sung by his brother Carl on the Beach Boys 1977 album “The Beach Boys Love You”. The lyrics are quintessential Brian, and the song is one of my all-time BB favorites:

The night was so young and everything still
The moon shining bright on my window sill
I think of her lips, it chills me inside
And then I think why does she have to hide

Is somebody gonna tell me why she has to hi-i-ide
She’s passin’ it by, she won’t even try
To make this love go where it should

The sky’s turnin’ gray, there’s clouds overhead
I’m still not asleep in my bed
I think of her eyes and it makes me sigh
I think of her voice and it makes me cry

Is somebody gonna tell me why she has to lie-i-ie
She’d be so right to hold me tonight
Love was made for her and I

It’s three o’clock I go to my sink
I pour some milk and I start to think
Is she asleep or is she awake
And does she think of the love we could make

Wake up, call me baby call me tell me what’s on your mi-i-ind
I’ve got a car and you’re not too far
Please let me come over to you

The song has just the right amount of earnestness, longing, and desperation which is what young love is all about. To me, it’s a keeper.

Actually, there were a lot of great songs on that album, like “Johnny Carson”, “Let Us Go On This Way”, “Roller Skating Child”, and “I’ll Bet He’s Nice”, featuring all three Wilson brothers in all their late ’70s glory, especially on the coda!

The album is a classic, love the Moog bass throughout, it’s awesome.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments (0)
August 14, 2011

Robert Morrison over at National Review Online’s Corner blog has a wonderful and interesting post contrasting the leaders of Great Britian and today in the face of international conflict and how they faced the challenges of their day. Morrison writes of the meeting between FDR and Winston Churchill in Newfoundland suring the summer of 1941: Churchill was keen to get American ships to help in the fight against Germany, Roosevelt wanted to help without committing more than what he reasonably could without entering the nation into war.

It’s a beautifully-written piece that expresses longingly just how much we as a nation have lost in the face of a post-modern, anti-Christian liberalism that has sought to extract God from everything and everywhere in this country:

The next day, Sunday, was the spiritual summit of this summit. Thousands of British and American sailors crowded together for worship aboard Prince of Wales. “My father is a very religious man,” Elliott had told Churchill in a private meeting. Churchill already knew that. He had planned every detail of the elaborate divine service. He ordered British and American flags placed on the chaplain’s pulpit.

The president and the prime minister led their ships’ companies in a church parade. The sailors shared hymnals. The prime minister selected the hymns — Roosevelt’s favorites, and ones that Winston judged would be known by most of his battle-hardened English ratings. “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers” were the familiar tunes voiced by 4,000 male voices, their sound reverberating from the forbidding gray mountains that ringed this sheltered bay.

The Royal Navy chaplain read from the book of Joshua. “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee, saith the Lord. Be strong and of good courage.” Roosevelt choked back tears, so moved was he by the scene played out for him. Churchill wept openly.

Now ask yourself: could you everimagine Barack Obama submitting himself to such a display of earnest Christianity? That’s a rhetorical question, y’all. Of course not. Do you know the Kenyan has never released a White House proclamation about Easter, but has annually at the start of Ramadan. Hey, I just report, you can be the judge.

I love the imagery of which Morrison writes; more than anything else, I miss the churches of which he writes. The Church of England (to which Churchill belonged) and the Episcopal Church (Roosevelt’s tradition) of their time are both long since gone. Instead of a rich tradition and a beautiful liturgy that presented one in humble and earnest repentence before God, these traditions of today are instead little more than apostate, pagan tributes to the gods of acceptance, tolerance, and diversity in the face of a political correctness that leaves them little more than a step or two above the wiles of Satan and his archangels.

If you think these words are harsh, all I can say is that it wasn’t me who left the Episcopal Church, it was the Episcopal Church that left me. I am, and will always remain until my grave, an Anglo-Catholic.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:18 | Comments (6)

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